Child Sex Abuse: Sensitising Family and System Need of the Hour

November 30, 2015 I

As the discussion comes to an end, Rajeev Chandrasekhar pledges to The Quint to help Chhoti Nirbhaya.

Also, panel members agree that this dialogue should act as a catalyst in the conversation about child sex abuse.

Also ReadThe Quint Impact: Delhi Govt to Give Chhoti Nirbhaya Rs 3 Lakh

The Quint’s relentless reporting on Chhoti Nirbhaya, the 4-year-old rape survivor, has forced the Delhi government to act. The government has agreed to provide a compensation of Rs 3 lakh to the victim’s family.

Nirbheek, an Initiative by Delhi Police

Veenu Bansal, DCP, Delhi police talks about his initiative called Nirbheek. Bansal says, “I started a programme called Nirbheek to make it easier for children to report cases of child sexual abuse. It also includes sensitisation of the child towards the police. I have noticed that kids are not easily convinced to speak with policemen. So we are meeting them regularly and talking to them to make the process easier.

Bansal said that police officers have gone to 557 schools and tried to educate them about sexual abuse. Lady officers, Bansal claims, now take verbal complaints which include being subjected to lewd remarks. Bansal claims over 2,000 verbal complaints and 300 written complaints were received.

Also Read on The QuintIt’s a ‘National Epidemic’: RainbowMan Harish Iyer on Child Abuse

Rashmi Saxena from the Women and Child Development Ministry speaks on the importance of teaching children the difference between a good and a bad touch.

“There is a film that the ministry is trying to screen in every school to help kids understand what is a good touch and a bad touch. The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) and the police are working together”.

Govt Aims for National Level Policy

“We are definitely working on a national level policy and not just for abuse. It will be wider than that. We are also working on a programme to identify children before they are abused.”

When it’s in the Family, Mothers Must Act

When asked about sensitising the victims’ mothers, Bharti Ali says, 

Statistics, good or bad, show Delhi is contributing a lot more to incest cases, where the abuse is from someone within the family. Just today I met a mother who brought her daughter who is 5 months pregnant. And she was quiet about the perpetrator.

On the same subject, actor Pooja Bedi says, “ The synergy between the mother and the child is most important. We have to make recourse available and need effective policing. My maid has been trying to lodge an FIR for eight years. And instead of receiving help, she was fined her for raising her voice”.

Also Read on The Quint: ‘My Husband Raped Our 3-Year-Old & Authorities Refused to Help’

‘It is not a Gender-based Problem’

Anuja Gupta of RAHI is asked whether there is need for a separate organisation for male victims of child sex abuse.

Gupta responds, “The fact that RAHI works with female victims doesn’t mean the problem does not exist among the young male population. But we need more help. We need more people helping out.

‘Politicians Disconnected From Reality’

Rajeev Chandrashekhar, Rajya Sabha MP says, “A mother in Bengaluru approached me after her child was sexually abused. I picked up the phone and called the home minister of the state and told him that this happened to a three-year-old.

He turned hostile and blamed the parents.

“Who asked them to pick that school, he asked. This is how apathetic and disconnected the system is to this problem,” says Chandrasekhar.

‘The System Isn’t Sensitive’

Swagata Raha says the gaps in the legal system lead to a lower conviction rate. Raha is the Research Associate for the Centre for Child and the Law, National Law School in Bengaluru. Raha says,

“If the system isn’t sensitive, the message we send is that you shouldn’t have come forward. The support we offer (to the survivor) is sporadic. We don’t offer the kind of support that is necessary for a child to come forward and say he/she was raped”.

Raha points out,

  • Attitudinal gap: There’s no patience. When a child turns hostile people wash their hands off.
  • Procedural gap: The process from report to conclusion has to be child-friendly.
  • Investigation gap: The minute the child turns hostile, our courts stop the investigation. And medical evidence? Samples are not stored properly.

Actor Pooja Bedi, who is also on the panel, speaks about experiences from her childhood.

“My mother was molested. My step father molested me. I am here as a parent, a mother. The safety of my children concerns me. I am also here as a citizen and a columnist”.

Bharti Ali, the co-director of HAQ: Centre for Child Rights,

“We need experts in counselling. We spend the lowest amount of welfare money on child abuse. We need special educators. The law says there has to be a panel of special educators. And the courts should have a list of these experts. But our courts are struggling to find this list”.

The Quint is supporting #ProtectOurChildren, an initiative by Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Member of Parliament, to find lasting solutions to the problem of Child Sexual Abuse.

A group of NGOs, activists, school principals, parents and survivors of child sexual abuse are coming together for an Open House event titled ‘Why we need to start talking about Child Sexual Abuse and Protect Our Children’ on the 30th of November, at the Constitution Club of India.

Participants include NGOs like HAQ Centre for Child Rights & RAHI foundation, Child Law expert Swagatha Raha from National Law School, Bengaluru, Preethi Herman from and various public figures, some of whom voice their concerns with The Quint.

At the end of the deliberations, the Open House aims to arrive at a consensus to frame a roadmap and find solutions to curb the menace of child sexual abuse.