“My question is how safe is our children?”- Anonymous
I am not trying to scare you all (especially young parents) or just exaggerating for the sake of writing and so on. According to Ministry of Women and Child Development 53.22% of our children are sexually abused.Being a member of Child Welfare Committee (which work for the best interests of the children) I also have come across many cases on sexual assault committed against children especially below the age of 11 or 12 yrs. (which was filed under POCSO Act,2012) and of which I believe that many more are unreported. As the incidents of Child Sexual Abuse are increasing day by day , it’s high time we talk about Child Sexual Abuse and talk to our children about different measures so as to make them smart enough to protect their own self/ themselves. “What Child Sexual Abuse” When a child who are below the age of 18yrs. is pressurised, forced or tricked into taking part in any kind of sexual activity with an adult or young person(18 yrs. below) then it is sexual abuse. Child Sexual Abuse involves sexual assaults like fondling/touching/kissing of private parts and other parts of the body or making the child to touch their own private and others body parts and even non forced sex with an underage child, sexual harassments i.e., talking to a child inappropriately explicitly about sex or making a child exhibit any part of his body or showing any object to a child in any form or media for pornographic purpose, and used of child for pornographic purposes. We have a popular belief that very young children cannot be sexually abused but to be honest no child is spare from such abuses or crime. Among the many cases that have been reported in Imphal west, I would like to highlight some cases which will open eyes for every one of us. A 6 years old girl was sexually assault by her mother ’s uncle and another case is of a 6 years old girl who was forced to engage in sexual activity by a stranger while she was out playing in her friends place. In another rare incident 3 children of the age 4, 5 and 7 years, all girls were sexually abused by their cousin brother who was also minor (14 years) for a long period of time. Culprits or accused have been taken care of/ lodged under “The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences act, 2012 (POCSO) “- an act which aims to protect children from any sexual of fences. This Act provides stringent punishment to the culprit ranging from 3 years imprisonment to imprisonment for life with fine. It is evident from the above cases that any child regardless of age can be a victim of such act or crime and the offenders/ culprit can be either relatives or acquaintances or strangers but as per report the culprit are more likely to be someone the child knows. Offenders can be male or female but studies have supported that more offenders are male than female. Sexual offences can occur in variety of settings it can be your own place, locality or school settings. Another popular myth BOYS CANNOT BE ABUSED here I would like to draw your attention to the report compiled by Manipur Alliance for Child Rights (MACR) based on newspaper that among the 36 cases of Child sexual Abuse, 99% of the victim was girl and 1% boy . Number is few as compare to girls still boys can be a victim too. Therefore any child regardless of age, boy or girls, poor or rich can fell prey/ be victim of such crime. Though number of the incidents has surface but many of such crime is underreported.Child Sexual Abuse is a crime that happens in secrecy and it’ s something we don’t talk openly in our society . As the awareness has been done by many forums on POCSO Act cases has been reported still many more are underreported due to various reasons, it could because of the social stigma, child not disclosing due to fear or denial and even though the child disclosed the parents or guardians do not know what to do, where to approach and so on.