February 22, 2011


Times of India, Kanpur

Several girls silently bear sexual abuse: Survey

KANPUR: Nearly 40 per cent of girls in the city are victims of some form of sexual abuse, revealed a study conducted by the home science department of Chandra Shekher Azad (CSA) University of Agriculture and Technology. It includes girls who are in the age group of 9-12 years and have been molested either at schools or homes. Many girls have faced physical and emotional neglect and social abuse as well.

Out of 249 girls surveyed, 123 reported of instances where their private parts were touched. While 41.2 per cent were forced to expose their genitals or subjected to other forms of sexual abuse. Whereas many girls reported of sexual act where the abuser forced the girl to touch his genitals.

Under the supervision of Neelima Kunwar, office-in-charge, extension education and communication management, CSA, the students of home science conducted a study among 249 girls under the age group of 9-12 years in 2010. The study was conducted in five Hindi and five English medium schools. The girls were interviewed with the help of a questionnaire.

"Generally, girls are sexually abused by an individual known to her family or somebody in her surrounding institutes. Rarely the abuser is a stranger," said Neelima. "In most of the cases, the girls were forced to show their body parts to the friends, cousins or teachers who are the abusers. They even are exposed to pornography and are forcefully kissed," she said.

Notably, abuse happens when someone tries to control or hurt the girl. It can be physical such as hitting or pushing. It can be making a girl feel worthless or making her possessive or jealous, to stop her from speaking to friends or family or even forcing her to participate in sexual activities.

Neelima mentioned that the victim is continuously targeted by the same abuser. With the passe of time the abuse rate increases. For example in the case of sexual abuse, the abuser in the initial stages shows his body parts and then it progresses to kissing, fondling, penetration and so on. And at the time he ensures to threat the child by abusing her physically and emotionally. Abuser simply try to convince the child that nobody would believe if they tell about the abuse.

However, such inappropriate sexual behaviour with a child such as fondling a child's genital, making the child fondle the adult's genital, intercourse, rape and sexual exploitation occurs because the respondent fails to express themselves after facing abuse. "Girls are least aware about such practices and secondly, they their parents due to some kind of physical abuse they experience at home.

Some girls are ashamed and feel guilty despite being subjected to fear and frustration.

Normally, the children who have been sexually exploited suffer from infection, genital injury, abdominal pain and urinary tract infection or behavioural problems. Besides, they face academic difficulties, concentration problem, depression, fear or shyness, insomnia and difficulty in learning.

Besides this, there are physical, emotional and neglect abuse. Physical abuse is one of the common abuse contributing to 72 per cent of the cases. In such cases, the child faces repeated beating and injuries, kicks, burns and other form of torture. As per the survey, a majority of children are either beaten by mother or schoolteacher. This is followed by emotional abuse. It includes verbal and mental abuse which leads to serious behavioural, emotional and mental disorders. Girls are even the victims of social abuse.

However, psychologist suggest that such unethical practices can be controlled if parents practice certain prevention strategies such as anger management and fill the communication gap between children and themselves.

Indian Express

Govt to bring in Bill to check sexual abuse of children

The government on Monday proposed to bring in a comprehensive legislation soon to prevent sexual abuse of children that will have provisions for stringent punishment for such offences.

In her address to joint sitting of both houses of Parliament, President Pratibha Patil said the government "proposes to introduce a bill regarding protection of children from sexual offences".

The new law will cover all new aspects of sexual offences against children not covered elsewhere with provision for stringent punishment.

Once through, this law will take precedence over any other existing law.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi was keen to see the bill through and had written to Women and Child Development (WCD) minister Krishna Tirath last year asking her to hasten the pace of the legislation focusing on sexual abuse of the children, sources said.

Amid reports of differences between ministries, she had asked the WCD ministry to coordinate with the Law Ministry which had already prepared a draft bill on similar lines.

The proposed legislation aims at protecting children against offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment, pornography and provide for establishment of special courts for trial of such offences.

The punishment for penetrative sexual assault has been proposed as at least five years in jail and a minimum fine of Rs 50,000. Sexual assault also includes fondling the child in an inappropriate way which will invite a penalty of minimum three years in jail.

There is a special provision preventing abuse of children for pornographic purpose or possessing pornographic material involving children. There will an obligation on media, studio and photographic facilities to report such cases and failure to do so will attract punishment.

To prevent misuse of this law, there is deterrent factor on false complaints and false information leading to six-month jail term.

There will be set procedure for media on reporting that would bar giving details of the victim and accused children's family or personal details or any form of reporting that can lead to their identification. Besides, it proposes special courts and more sensitive ways in dealing with crime against children.

In her address, Patil also touched upon the issue of protection of women against sexual harassment at workplace.

"The Protection of Women Against Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill has also been introduced in Parliament," Patil said.

February 9, 2011

Times of India

COP OUT , Police Said No To FIR For 2 Days In Girls Rape

Mumbai: For two whole days,the Vakola police refused to lodge an FIR in the rape of a three-year-old girl because they were uncertain if the offence had taken place.
The kindergartner was allegedly raped on Thursday morning in her Santa Cruz (East) school,the Kalina Education Society school,by a watchman,Telam Singh.Later that day,the childs mother called on Vakola police station to register a complaint,but the police paid little heed.On Friday too,the cops did not act;instead,playing the role of an arbiter between the school administration and the mother.The FIR was eventually lodged on Saturday after the mother produced a medical certificate from Sion Hospital,and on Monday,the police arrested Singh for alleged rape along with two other school employees who allegedly attempted to hush up the incident.

Rajendra Pardesi,senior police inspector of Vakola police station,argued that the police had recorded the mothers statement on Thursday,but they did not register an FIR till Saturday because they were unsure if the girl had indeed been raped.

On Tuesday morning,a number of parents protested outside Kalina Education Society,demanding strict action against its staff for laxity.When the crowd grew angry and in size,the police stepped in.A few of the parents,accompanied by a local social worker,were later allowed into the school to survey the site of the crime and meet the school management.My house is just a half a kilometre from the school.My daughter is in fifth standard.Every day,she used to come with her friends,but the incident has forced me to accompany her, said a protesting father.The victim studies in Junior KG in the preprimary section of Kalina Education Society school.According to the police,Singh took the child to a toilet on Thursday morning and sexually assaulted her.When the three-year-old,bleeding profusely,raised an alarm,a peon (Rekha Kamble) and a teacher (Elison Mirinda) assaulted her and threatened her.But once home,the young victim told her mother about the incident.

The mother rushed the child to Vakola police station,where a female police inspector dismissed their complaint as an attempt at raising an unnecessary controversy after the examining the victims private parts.She said the girl had not been raped.

When the mother insisted on filing a complaint,the police summoned the school staff,but did not send the child for a medical exam.Over the next day and a half,the cops played arbiter between the school and the complainant.

Things changed only on Saturday when the mother took the girl to Sion Hospital,where doctors confirmed,after an examination,that the child had been raped.The local police at the hospital,thereafter,contacted the Vakola police,which finally lodged an FIR.

The Vakola police took the girl to the school,where she identified the accused and the site of the crime.With no options left,the police arrested Singh along with Kamble and Mirinda.

Times of India

'Kids must be encouraged to talk freely'

MUMBAI: City psychiatrists say the steady increase in child sex abuse cases has brought to light the importance of training children about the difference between 'good touch' and 'bad touch'. Parents particularly need to communicate with kids every day so they can feel free to say anything they consider unusual.

"One can't trust strangers anymore and this is the first thing a child should be taught. Don't ask kids to respect and follow the advice of all adults," said Dr Harish Shetty. He added that the busy lifestyle of parents is increasingly giving offenders chances to victimize children. "Regular interaction with children is very important and parents should always take statements made by children seriously, unless proved otherwise," Shetty said.

With a number of sexual offences taking place at schools, psychiatrists say, it is important for parents to stay in touch with school authorities. "Parents should know who their kids interact with on a daily basis. They should regularly go to the school and stay around their kids to know what they do. This not only boosts the child's confidence in parents, but also leaves offenders with the impression that the child is well protected," said Dr Shubhangi Parkar, head of the psychiatry wing of KEM Hospital. She added that parents should simply and gently explain to their kids the issues of 'good touch' and 'bad touch' and about keeping away from strangers.

Schools should be aware of where students are at any given point of time. There should be enough attendants in class to ensure the safety of younger kids. "Even teachers should encourage students to enquire about anything and everything they feel like," said Shetty.

Increasing cases of child sex abuse have left parents wondering the right age to discuss such issues with kids. "There is no right age anymore. Earlier, we had instances of 5- or 6-year-olds being raped, but now we hear cases of kids barely 2 or 3 years old being targeted," said Dr Yusuf Matcheswalla, adding that early detection of such cases and therapy is very important or else children might end up with a phobia of other people.

February 2, 2011


Times of India

Sexual offences bill: Govt talks of 2 versions

CHENNAI/NEW DELHI: The ministry of women and child development denied a TOI report that the draft Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Bill, 2010, proposes to permit consensual non-penetrative sex between 12-year-olds. It said the report seems to be quoting provisions of a draft prepared by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights.

In its clarification, the ministry said the draft put up before the cabinet has the age of consent at 16. The proviso to Section 3 of the draft sent to states clearly mentions 16 as the age of consent for any sexual act and in any case of penetrative sexual assault on a child between 16 to 18 years of age, it has to be considered whether consent was taken, it said.

According to TN government sources, NCPCR had earlier recommended lowering the age of consent to 12 years and this was subsequently circulated to various states by the ministry of women and child development. But this version has since been superseded by another draft which retains the age of consent between 16 to 18 as under the Indian Penal Code. It is this draft which has, after consultations with the ministry of law, been sent for cabinet approval.

The move to circulate the draft which lowers the age of consent to 12 has, however, been criticized by child welfare groups. Says Raajmangal Prasad, chairperson of Delhi Child Welfare Committee, ''NCPCR does not have the mandate to send the draft directly to states unless it is its own initiative. The ministry had commissioned NCPCR to draft the bill and it cannot wash its hands of the matter.'' Prasad is also critical of the ministry's secretive ways of drafting legislation.

TOI had quoted Aparna Bhat, an SC lawyer who was part of the drafting committee, as saying that the decision to lower the age of consent for minors was aimed at decriminalizing sexual exploration by children.

February 1, 2011


Times of India

Bill seeks to let 12-yr-olds have non-penetrative sex

CHENNAI: Twelve-year-old children will be legally permitted to have non-penetrative sex with children their age, according to a draft Protection of Children From Sexual Offences Bill, 2010, that has been sent to states by the ministry of women and child development for their views.

The Bill also seeks to introduce a gradation in the age of consensual non-penetrative sex (12-14 years and 14-16 years) against the existing age of consent for sex which is 16 years. It proposes that in case of the age group 12-14, the maximum age gap between partners should be two years. For the 14-16 group, the maximum gap should be three years.

The age of consent in the US is between 16 and 18 years, depending on the state they live in; in the UK it is 16. Spain has one of the lowest ages of consent, at 13 years.

While a senior official of the ministry of women and child development confirmed that the Bill has been sent to state governments, law minister Veerappa Moily said he was not aware of it. ``Twelve years is anyway not a proper age for a sexual act,`` he told TOI.

Section 3 of the proposed Bill lists under exceptions of unlawful sexual act with a child:

(i) Any consensual non-penetrative sexual act penalised by this chapter is not an offence when engaged in between two children who are both over 12 years of age and are either of the same age or whose ages are within two years of each other.

(ii) when engaged in between two persons who are both over 14 years of age and are either of the same age or whose ages are within three years of each other

The Bill will soon be sent to the cabinet, after which a parliamentary standing committee will scrutinise it. Suggestions and objections from the states will be considered then, said a senior official at the ministry of women and child development.

The law ministry too has been working on a similar Bill with an identical name, in which the age of consent is mentioned as 16 years, with no gradation as suggested by the new Bill. The circulation of two Bills with the same title has created confusion in the government.

Opinion on the minimum age are divided. Aparna Bhat, a Supreme Court lawyer who was part of a National Commission for Protection of Child Rights group that drafted the latest Bill said the gradation of age down to 12 years was to decriminalise sexual exploration by two children.

Under the existing law, if two 12-year-olds get physical and if one childs parent complains, the other can be pulled up by the Juvenile Justice Board. The panel felt such minor things should be decriminalised, she said.

Raaj Mangal, chairperson of Delhi Child Welfare Committee said the Bill could prove ``disastrous`` if it comes into effect. ``Twelve, given the mind and maturity of a child, is not an age to give consent, be it penetrative or non-penetrative sex. In the name of decriminalising, you can`t keep sexual acts between children out of the notice of the authorities,`` said Mangal.

Former CBI director RK Raghavan felt the attempt to draw a distinction between an act involving penetration and one not involving penetration will create confusion in the minds of investigators. ``Disputes regarding the age of the offender or the victim, which will be many, will dilute the objective of protecting children,`` he said.

Some others like Nina Nayak, chairperson of Karnataka State Commission for the protection of child rights, called the Bill ``absolutely unacceptable``. ``The Juvenile Justice Board is anyway lenient to children in conflict with law. Even if a minor rapes a minor, the child in conflict with law is just admonished and sent. There is no need of a new law to make sexual acts between children permissible,`` she said.