Child abuse — has anything changed?

This is an updated re-post about the victimisation of children which  I had written in 2010. That was  when the news of three young siblings having been raped and sodomised by the school van driver had come out in the papers. Things don’t seem to have changed even a bit since then. If anything, they have only got worse. Blind children being brutalised, a tiny tot thrashed inside his own home….It is way beyond sickening. So much so that even the so-called elitist schools don’t seem to be free from predators and sadists in the garb of teachers as seen in the Bangalore school incident. 

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Save the child, please!

I am getting increasingly scared to open the newspapers these days. Disconcerting crime news involving children is something I can’t bring myself to get used to. Sexual abuse, prostitution, murder, kidnapping, forced begging, forced labour…..you name it and the victim is most often a child.

The latest is the one involving three siblings who have been repeatedly raped and sodomized by the driver of the van which ferried them to school. The children aged 12, (girl) 10 and 7 (boys) were drugged and made to indulge in unspeakable sexual acts while they were filmed.

And guess what?  A teenager of the IX standard of the same school along with four more boys were the masterminds behind the crime. Both the parents of the boy are teachers, and he used his house for the heinous crime in their absence. Makes one’s stomach churn at the thought of children turning perverts.

What is even more sickening is the fact that this had been going on for a year and half and the mother got wise to it only a month ago! Or maybe she picked up the courage to talk only then? Whatever, how can a school, however callous ignore the fact that the children were frequently absent or looked drugged? Even when everything is out in the open, how can the school feign ignorance and how can a mother however scared could let her children be abused?

Earlier this week there was another story about a woman who strangled her 8 year-old nephew to ‘teach her brother a lesson he would never forget.’ She then dumped the body in the water tank and finally surrendered at the police station. She has two young boys of her own.

What was the reason? Her brother kept belittling her husband when they visited him and this caused fights between the couple. If that were so, woman! (a) why didn’t you stop visiting him, if you cared so much for your husband?

(b) why were you angry with your brother if you felt justified enough to fight with your husband over his remarks?

(c)What crime did that little boy do to deserve being killed?

What is the world coming to? How can a woman kill her own young nephew, who trusted his aunt enough to accompany her for a ‘walk’, isn’t it way beyond sickening?

Children are being increasingly abused by perverted adults who have no qualms whatsoever about what they are subjecting the child to. Even churches are not above this crime. Recently the Pope reacting to revelations about child abuse in the Catholic churches expressed his sadness that the Church “had not been vigilant enough” on the issue of pedophile priests. Elsewhere cases have been filed against pastors and congregation heads of other churches too for child abuse.

Coming back to the point, child abuse is not just restricted to sexual abuse, but also other more subtle forms of it. In the year 2005, The National Commission of Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), a statutory body was constituted by an act of Parliament. The Act lays down the basic rights of the child which includes the right to safe homes and the right not to be physically or mentally harmed.

the website of NCPCR seems to be hopelessly out of date as it had been four years ago just as it seems to give just a fraction of actual cases of child abuse. For instance, it reports that child abuse cases went up to 763 in 2009-10 from 35 in 2007-08. There is no data after that.

Five years on, only eight states/UTs have constituted the State bodies of the Commission for Protection of Child Rights including Assam, Delhi, Goa, Karnataka, Sikkim, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Till June this year the National Commission has only dealt with about 1500 complaints which is not even a drop in the ocean of child abuse! So how far has this act been successful in protecting the child?

With so much danger  lurking around the corner, how can a parent feel relaxed while sending a child out alone?

Let us for a moment take our focus off the sexual abuse of children. There are any number of other abuses against these tender lives including, corporal punishment both at home and school, deprivation and destitution including starvation and forced begging after being kidnapped, kidnapping for monetary and other settlements with the parents by unscrupulous goondas, being sold off into child labour and child prostitution……The list is endless.

Coming to the home front, children are abused in a different way. What would you call it when a child is forced to take part in the so-called reality shows by ambitious parents who want to bask in the momentary glory courtesy their stressed out children? What would you call it when like the mother at the outset of the post, parents fail to take note of the changed attitudes and behaviour of a child after being subjected to overt and covert sexual advances by the very same adults they trust? What would you call it when they have unreasonable expectations academically and socially thereby subjecting their children to untold stress? The number of children committing suicide is increasing alarmingly especially during the time of school and Board results. And the age at which they commit the act is also dropping equally alarmingly.

Haven’t we all heard of mothers who spank their kids when they are frustrated over other things like their relationships with their husbands and in-laws or other stresses they are unable to cope with? What is the child? A punch-bag designed to bear all the beatings of frustrated souls?

The recent cases of blind students being thrashed in Telengana was all over the channels. And then the story of a woman tutor pummelling a three-year-old in his own home made me cringe. The truth is that when it comes to sadism, gender seems to be no bar, as in the case of the woman who killed her nephew and the teacher who thrashed the kids.

I want to ask these satanic people how they can let anger get the better of their judgment to bring themselves to physically harm a child? Their place is in a psychiatric ward and nowhere else.

The problem is, anything that is done by the government  is too little to bring about a change for the better. Verbal assurances, committees and laws make no difference. Only awareness on the part of parents and children can help prevent cases of child abuse. PTA s should make an effort to hold these awareness sessions and if the school doesn’t co-operate, they should create a scene so loud that the authorities are forced to listen and act. The public has woken up and needs to remain awake and vigilant to protect its children if the state and the school doesn’t.

29 comments

  1. You wrote this in 2010 and I’m reading it in 2012. Two years later, things haven’t changed at all. But more and more people are aware, angry and speaking out about many issues including child abuse. Previously, many were speaking out through NGOs or as individuals and some, in the process even lost their lives. Today, more ordinary Indians than ever before are all for initiating action – united action – as that is more effective than individual action. Don’t know what will come of this but I feel more hopeful than ever before as people are acknowledging it isn’t enough to indulge in armchair action.

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    1. Kayem, don’t you see that this is such a massive thing that any movement or effort has to be galvanise the government to enforce stringer laws and give punitive punishment if there has to be a change. Have you been following the story of trafficking of girls by organised rackets in the Capital right under the noses of the three most powerful women leaders of the country? Of children being employed and abused as domestic servants? Why is the government not enforcing the laws? Armchair activism is addictive, Kayem and therein lies the problem 😦

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  2. Thanks for sharing it for me. you know, I have to rely on kids and friends to share my posts on their social networks! I will surely read the posts, Tikuli. The issue is not primarily about saving the child, but for the guardians to be educated about this so that they take steps. An irresponsible media that only ‘breaks news’ about these and then drops it for something else, will do more harm than good. The children whose photos they kept flashing all over are more damaged now than before. The mother is being harassed. when will our society, laws and MEDIA become more responsible and accountable? It is really pathetic.

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  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Vineet Rajan, Himanshu Shekhar. Himanshu Shekhar said: Save the child please! https://cybernag.in/2010/09/save-the-child-please/ […]

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  4. Very well written mom! This is something you had always talked about but never blogged about. Its cruel some the things kids have to go through not just from strangers, but from also their own family; the people they trust.

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    1. Thanks Vinni. I am really pained to see such things going on around us and being helpless to prevent them thanks to the apathy of the society, which considers such things to be the ‘personal matter’ of the family concerned. Even more, the families themselves shy away from talking about them.

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  5. Very chilling post Z…i think i would be scared to let my child out of my site :(…It upset me to read thru it

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    1. Please read Nalini’s comment to this post, Nuts! Every parent should follow what she has done with her son which would make the parent relax and the child safe. We can’t shield the child forever from the world, after all.

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  6. a sad commentary on the crises children have to undergo

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    1. Yes indeed. Much like the rape victim being made to feel guilty, these children are also unfortunately made to feel somehow responsible for their abuse and so they undergo the abuse sometime for years.

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  7. I fail to understand why media highlights such things to the core while forgetting all the good work that is happening in each corner of our country. I agree it is an issue, but are we doing any good by spreading such negative news?

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    1. I disagree with you here, Mohan. This is one time that I heartily appreciate the role of the media in highlighting such an issue that is threatening to get out of hand. At least it would create more awareness about this menace and prepare the parents to be more vigilant and educate their children about abusers and how they can be trapped. Unfortunately, the media mandarins drop the story like a hot potato when they have better news to break like maybe the Commissioner’s dog going missing! For if these stories are given at least a follow up coverage till the accused gets a stiff sentence, it will act as a deterrent.

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    2. @Mohan,
      I fully agree with you. Media should not never talk about such things. It should focus on all the good work to promote our great culture, tradition and reputation instead push all the bad things under the rug like CWG prepration should be highlighted and all corruption and mismanagement should be covered up. No matter what happens to Dalits even if they are burned alive we should show the world our ancestors said “Vasudhaiv Kutumbkam.” No matter widows were burnt alive with dead husbands and young brides for the sake of dowries. We should not talk about it.
      Had not someone spoken about it the Dalits would have been still kept out of schools and jobs, women would have been living in homes and birthing children and dying in child bed and upper caste men would have kept having multiple wives. Guess, it is time we opened our eyes to the reality and work towards eliminating oppression of all.

      …I agree it is an issue, but are we doing any good by spreading such negative news?

      Raising awareness. Making people aware of such happenings helps in preventing more of such incidents.

      @Zypher,

      It was exactly in response to this news item, sexual exploitation of 3 siblings that I created a page http://girlsguidetosurvival.wordpress.com/recognize-child-sexual-abuse/

      It is very important to make parents and care givers aware what consitutes child sexual assault and how it can be recognized. Desi Girl has also provided links about how to talk to your children about it.

      Peace,
      Desi Girl

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      1. Media should not talk about a lot of things that are negative. But funnily enough no one condemns the media for highlighting communal issues and creating panic situations by blowing up trivial issues, do they? the CWG issue as you have rightly pointed out is one such. But abuse is a social issue too and it involves all classes right across the board and so needs to be highlighted. If the govt only wakes up and can think beyond its vote banks, it would be making laws stringent enough to nail rapists and abusers. That’s the only way such demons can be exorcised. But the ham-handed way it is being done — dragging the children into the limelight and all, is definitely not done. The way media is functioning at the moment really sucks.
        It is great to know that you have started a support group for such people and will surely spread the word!

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  8. It breaks my heart when I read about child abuse. Sadly the abuser is usually someone close to the child.

    What kind of human being are you, abusing the child’s trust! Is the child some kind of use and throw toy for your depraved state of mind?
    A simple imprisonment is not enough for such individuals!!

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    1. Yes Purba. But in our legal system there are so many loopholes that allow these beasts to get away with the lightest of sentences. And it is also important as Nalini has shown by her own example that the parents and children trust each other enough to foil these abusers. Children these days are intelligent enough to be trusted with such information.

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  9. My 16 year old son is away from home 8 months a year and has been since he was 7 playing cricket for the state. I have shown him, at a very young age, where he cannot be touched by a male or female stranger, or any adult or boys and girls.By the age of 12 I had educated him about sex and its abuse.

    Once, in a hotel corridor, he was in his whites and a man invited him to come into his room to watch a cricket match on TV…he went in and sat down on a chair engrossed in the match…when the man closed the door, my son suddenly remembered what I had told him…he ran out of the room and rang me up.

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    1. That’s exactly what every parent should do in this grossly perverted world today. That and the communication lines between the parent and child remaining open all the time. Did you read Ratzzz’ comment where she says her friend who had been molested was taunted by her own mother? How can a child turn to a parent like that? It is a sad fact that for whatever reason even the over protective parents today fail to have a healthy communication with their children.

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  10. Hai Zephyr,

    You have touched on another crucial social issue, which is some what at its initial stage in India, but is rampant in other parts of the world. As well put by Antony North, UK could not resolve the issue in spite of all those physiological and sociological interventions by the government.

    In my opinion, only societal intervention can solve this problem in India. Parents should take responsibility for their children and the government should help the parents to have the necessary skills to deal with the new situation.

    I have touched the issue in one of my recent posting http://indiablooming.com/?p=904

    I would like to hear opinion on that

    all the best

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    1. No Prasanna , it is not in the initial stages, but only now has started coming out in the open. For instance the mother of the kids has taken so long to suspect and lodge complaint at the police station. And the police are also not co-operative in registering complaints.
      I disagree with the argument that the onus is on the parents. there is only so much a parent can do to protect the child. Yes, they can educate their children about the dangers or trusting strangers, but beyond that a very stringent legal system and punitive punishments can have some deterrent effect. also people must be encouraged to come forward to make such things public in order to get justice without fear of social ostracism.

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  11. This is such a delicate subject. In the UK, anyone who works with children now has to have a police check before being allowed to. Social services can investigate any home if there is the slightest suspicion, and have the powers to remove children for their safety. But still it goes on, no matter what laws or protection you impose. And then it can get out of hand in another way. In the late 80s and early 90s, the idea of satanic ritual abuse surfaced, resulting in hundreds of children being taken into protection. The whole thing proved to be incorrect, and the result of over-zealous social workers. Hundreds of families destroyed by a system designed to protect them. Somewhere, a balance must come. Indeed, social services have such a bad reputation over here, now, that it is so easy for people to not even contact them. We also have the voluntary system, Childline, where any child can ring them for help if they’re being abused. It has become so well known that many children have threatened their parents with it if they don’t get their own way.
    All children should be protected, certainly, but finding the answer is not easy.

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    1. The Child Rights Act is still in its infancy here and therefore there is no saying how it will be (mis)used here by the beneficiaries, viz., the children. Any government helpline is necessarily unreliable and bad. But there are good NGOs that are working for the welfare of children, but they are too few for a country this size.

      Social services have not become so active here as to separate children from their parents unless specific complaints are registered. But the problem here is the ease with which perverts can get their hands on the child once he or she leaves home. in this case the children were molested by the van driver himself!
      Punishment is the only deterrent and that is very light due to reasons known only to the legal system.

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  12. hmmm so what will you say about the parent who says “you would have liked it, so only he comes to u again n again” or something to that effect… 😐

    a friend’s case.. she is still scared ‘coz of it!

    Sigh, amma… dunno wat to reply here 😦

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    1. Oh Ratzzz, your comment brought tears to my eyes! How can a mother do that to her child? This is what I meant when I said that abuse sometimes happens at home. Poor girl,in addition to her trauma, she has to bear the taunts of her own mother!

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    2. Get the child help from a professional counsellor and the parent some help from an adult with some sense.

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  13. very well put.
    its a menace and sincere measures at grass root level are need of the hour.

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    1. No amount of measures will work unless laws are made and enforced to put terror in the minds of these deviants.

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  14. It is important that children be made aware of predators who want to exploit them. They should be made aware that in the world there are also monsters who look like humans and that they have to be careful when dealing with people even if they may be relatives. And parents should be taking extra care not to leave their children in the hands of strangers who may be a wolf in disguise.

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    1. That’s exactly what should be done, but this is such a taboo subject that parents shy away from addressing it. I read somewhere that children should be taught from very young age about ‘good touch’ and ‘bad touch’. But no matter what precaution you take some wolf lurks round the corner and unless the laws are made stricter and punishments more punitive, there is little chance of things changing. It is depressing, Kevin.

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