Context:

  • With multiple cases of child sexual abuse, the issue of child right gains prominence.

Background:

Child sexual abuse:

  • Any sexual act between an adult and a minor, or between two minors, when one exerts power over the other.

Child rights:

  • Child Rights are minimum entitlements and freedoms that should be afforded to all persons below the age of 18.
    • Right to Survival: Right to survival is inclusive of the child rights to be born, right to minimum standards of food, shelter and clothing, and the right to live with dignity.
    • Right to Protection: Right to be protected from neglect, exploitation and abuse at home, and elsewhere.
    • Right to Participation: Right to participate in any decision making that involves him/her directly or indirectly.
    • Right to Development: Right to all forms of development i.e. Emotional, Mental and Physical.

 National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB)’s reported crimes against children across the country:

Statistical data:

  • 1, 06,958 crime cases in 2016 over 18,967 crime cases in 2006.
  • Uttar Pradesh tops the list with 15 per cent.
  • Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh closely follows with 14 per cent and 13 per cent respectively.

Nature of crimes and categories:

  • Kidnapping and abduction tops the lists (48.9 per cent, number of crimes 52,253) as recorded in 2016.
  • The next biggest category of crime against children in terms of number is rape (More than 18 per cent of all crimes against children).
  • Cases under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) in 2016 were 36,022.
  • UP reported 4,954 cases, followed by Maharashtra (4,815) and Madhya Pradesh (4,717).
  • Please note: A new chapter on ‘Missing Persons and Children’ has been included in the recent NCRB release in compliance with the Supreme Court directives.

Reasons behind ineffectiveness of dealing with the problems of child sexual abuse are as follows:

  • Lack of accountability mechanism,
  • Lack of proper prevention mechanisms in place,
  • Lack of child protection personnel,
  • Lack of civil-societal co-operation,
  • Lack of child-friendly environment in courts,
  • Lack of training on child psychology and appropriate methods of questioning children,
  • Lack of culture of zero tolerance, and
  • Acceptance of only biological age of the child but silent on the mental age considerations (POCSO Act).

 Impacts of sexual abuse on children are as follows:

  • Physical and mental development of child,
  • Abnormal sexual behavior,
  • Academic inefficiency in childhood,
  • Risk of teen pregnancy,
  • Emotional difficulties such as anger, anxiety, sadness or low self-esteem, and
  • Disturbing thoughts, emotions and memories that cause distress or confusion.

Government initiatives against child sexual abuse:

  • Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS):
    • Anganwadi Services: holistic development of children under the age of six years, pregnant women and lactating mothers.
    • Scheme for Adolescent Girls: facilitate, educate and empower adolescent girls.
    • Child Protection Services: provide safe and secure environment for children through a wide range of social protection measures.
    • National Crèche Scheme: providing a safe place for mothers to leave their children while they are at work.
  • National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR): Ensures that all Laws, Policies, Programmes, and Administrative Mechanisms are in consonance with the Child Rights perspective as enshrined in the Constitution of India and also the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
  • Please note: The Child is defined as a person in the 0 to 18 years age group.
  • Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act): Protect children from offenses of sexual abuse, sexual harassment and pornography and provide a child-friendly system for the trial of these offences.
  • Pan-India expansion of Beti Bachao Beti Padhao: Address the declining Child Sex Ratio (CSR) and address other related issues of disempowerment of women.
  • One Stop Centres(OSCs): Single window for women to a range of services including access to police, medical, legal and psychological support and temporary shelter.

 Way ahead:

  • Keen observation on the behavioral changes of their children,
  • Stricter legislation against offenders,
  • Make children aware about their legal rights,
  • Organize community awareness program,
  • Proactive role of media in line with the Juvenile Justice Act,
  • Create a favorable child-friendly environment in court and police stations, and
  • Background investigation and credentials of the job applicants for a school.
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