Innocence violated: The grim reality of child sexual abuse

Submitted by alvin on Thu, 2017-03-09 10:27 Bengaluru: The recent incident involving the sexual abuse of a three-year-old girl by her school supervisor in Bengaluru received a lot of attention. But the sordid incident is not an isolated one. Reports with the Integrated Child Development Services, Karnataka Women and Child Welfare Department, show that sexual crimes against children have been rising, with 214 child sexual abuse cases being registered in Bengaluru Urban alone between April-December 2016. A total of 1069 cases were registered in a period of just nine months in the state, while the grand total for 2015-16 stands at 1,375 cases. Apart from Bengaluru, Chikkaballapur (82), Dakshina Kannada (74), Shivamogga (50), Mandya (53), Gulbarga (43) and Davangere (44) have also reported an increase in sexual abuse involving children in 2016. But out of the 1069 cases registered, only 67 have seen convictions in the state. As many as 227 victims were able to get compensation for medical treatment under Makkala Abaya Nidhi Yojana with the help of the Karnataka Women and Child Welfare Department, police and legal cell. Narmada Anand, Project Director, ICDS, Women and Child Welfare Department (Karnataka) blames the low level of convictions on witnesses and victims turning hostile. “In more than 70 percent of cases, the accused is known to the family,” says Narmada. “If the accused is a family member, the case may not reach a logical end. The family members will resolve the matter among themselves if the case involves uncle, family friend, father and others. Hence the rate of conviction is less.” Anand narrates the case of 19-year-old Radha (name changed), who was rescued by volunteers from Bosco Mane. “A counsellor found her in Kempegowda Bus Station,” says Narmada. “We asked her for the house address. She hesitated. It took us lot of time to gain her confidence. She was in shock. Later, she said that her parents had died and she was living with her aunt. Her uncle had abused her sexually. She is being trained in our hostel for soft skills and will be placed in some company in Bengaluru.” Sheeba Thomas, In-charge, Bosco Vathsalya Bhavan, says they get at least 30 cases every two months. “It is very sad that family members abuse children,” she says. “When such things happen, children go into shock. It takes time for us to bring them out of shock and fear. If the teenage girls stay with us here, we train them in soft skills and place them in different companies. This can make them independent.” Vasudev Sharma, former chairperson, KSPCR, says the less number of cases being reported from towns such as Yadgir, Belgaum, Dharwad, Gadag and others doesn’t mean there is no child sexual abuse in these districts. “The reporting system like police, media, NGOs, child helpline is more organized in metro cities,” he says. “People in villages are not even aware of the POCSO act.  Even if abuse cases are reported to the elders, nothing happens and most of the times, they close such cases thinking that the case may bring bad name to the village and family.” According to Dr John Vijaysagar, Professor at the Child and Adolescents Psychiatry Department, Nimhans, child sexual abuse is a “very delicate subject”. “If the victim is left without counselling, he or she may suffer from development disorder,” he says. “In a few cases, the child may become violent.  The child will show less interest in academics. It is very important for parents to give extra care for such children. At Nimhans, we ensure that the child comes out of the trauma and goes back to attend his or her academics like any other child."