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Abuse of children in India

This was forwarded by a journalist friend in India. In the west sexual abuse of children is reported often in the media making all of us aware and educated enough to be on guard. However, In India we have not had such levels of exposure to the topic making us unaware that sexual abuse of children, apparently happens at a higher rate in India, than in other countries.
I personally know quite a few friends who have been at the receiving end of such abuse of predators in the area (safe middle class area) I lived in. I was taken aback when my friends recounted their stories once we were adults. These were all boys abused by married men. One of the predators is a popular tuition teachers husband and, unfortunately, who is still active in the area according to what I have heard.

Hope you can distribute this to friends in India so people are educated about what often happens in their safe homes and neighborhoods

As part of a team creating a series of self-help books on various topics for children in the eight to twelve age group I had an experience that is imprinted in memory forever. Id written a book on child sexual abuse by relatives a fictional story about a little girl who had suffered sexual abuse at the hands of her maternal uncle. It was being tested with a group of twenty girls in Karnataka. The facilitator read out the story. There was pin drop silence in the room. The story concluded and suddenly on of the girls burst into tears and then another. Slowly they began to speak of their own experiences with sexual abuse and how they had been able to tell no one about it all these years. What echoed most resoundingly was the plea: Please help us. We have no one to turn to.

Back in Mumbai, when I shared this heart-rending experience with my college going daughter, her response was equally wrenching. Ma, she said, this kind of abuse is everywhere. I have a friend who was abused regularly for four years by a caretaker. Shes so distraught I feel terrible. The abuse stopped many years ago, but she hasnt got over it. It haunts her every day. She feels very helpless. And there are many cases like this.

Statistics on recent sexual abuse cases against children tell a horrifying tale. A 1999 World Health Organization report stated that 1 in 10 children is sexually abused. But Lois J. Engelbrecht, a researcher working on the problems of child sexual abuse, quotes studies showing that over 50 per cent of children in India are sexually abused, a rate that is higher than in any other country. Huma Khan of the Kanpur-based Centre for the Study of Human Rights terms child sexual abuse as one of the least documented violations. But studies made across India, documented in Grace Poore's resource book The Children We Sacrifice show the wide prevalence of the problem.

A survey with 350 schoolgirls in New Delhi by Sakshi (an NGO) in 1997, showed that 63% had experienced sexual abuse by family members; 25% of the girls had either been raped, made to masturbate the perpetrator or perform oral sex. Another 1997 study on middle and upper class women from Chennai, Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi and Goa by the NGO, RAHI revealed that 76% of respondents had been sexually abused as children, with 71% been abused either by relatives or by someone they knew and trusted.

Samvada's 1996 study on students in Bangalore stated that 47% of the respondents had been sexually abused with 62% having been raped once and 38% having been repeatedly violated.

Tulir-CPHCSA`s study in 2006,conducted among 2211 school going children in Chennai, indicates a prevalence rate of 42%. Children of all socio-economic groups were found equally vulnerable. While 48% of boys reported abuse the prevalence rate among girls was 39%.

Yes. It is a reality that sexual abuse of kids is rampant. As adults, we need to be acutely aware of the fact that any child we know is vulnerable to sexual abuse. As it is not always possible for us to ensure a child's safety, it is critical that we teach children how to protect themselves.

The basics begin with understanding what constitutes sexual abuse and what its dynamics are, preparing children to recognize and deal with it, creating an open environment in which children can express themselves freely, learning to notice and react to sexually inappropriate behaviors towards children and responding when we think a child is being sexually abused.


Sexual abuse of children is a very real problem in India, and the situation is aided by the absence of effective legislation and the silence that surrounds the offence. Asha Krishnakumar, child rights activist

A clear understanding of sexual abuse is critical in recognizing and dealing with it.
Experts explain child sexual abuse as the use of a child for sexual gratification by an older or more powerful person. The offender is usually an adult, but could also be a more powerful child. Both girls and boys are vulnerable. Besides being a public health concern, it is a crime punishable by law.
The types of abuse include Touching and Non-Touching Acts such as these:

Fondling a child's body for sexual pleasure
Kissing a child with sexual undertones/inclinations.
Rubbing genitals against a child's body.
Sexually touching a child's body, and specifically private parts (breasts and genitals) and/or encouraging or forcing a child to
do likewise.
Making a child touch someone else's genitals, or playing sexual ("pants-down";) games.
Encouraging or forcing a child to masturbate, with the child as either a participant or observer.
Encouraging or forcing a child to perform oral sex (mouth-to-genital contact on or by the child)
Inserting objects or body parts (like fingers, tongue or penis) inside the vagina, mouth, or anus of a child; includes attempts of these acts.
Encouraging a child to watch or hear sexual acts either in person or lowering the bars of privacy
Looking at a child sexually
Exposing one's private body parts to a child (exhibitionism)
Watching a child in a state of nudity, such as while undressing, using the bathroom, with or without the child's knowledge (voyeurism)
An adult making suggestive comments to the child that are sexual in nature. Commenting on the sexual development of a child
Encouraging or forcing a child to read/watch pornography, giving pornographic material or using the child in pornography


There is no proto-typical victim of child sexual abuse. Any child may be victimized. However, abusers often target children with obvious vulnerabilities. A child who feels unloved and unpopular will soak up adult attention like a sponge. Children with family problems, who spend time alone and unsupervised, who lack confidence and self-esteem, and who are isolated from their peers are all likely targets.

Certain factors increase the vulnerability of children more at risk. Experts list these as being some of the key factors:
A belief that "respect" means unquestioning obedience to authority
Lack of appropriate sex education, either by way of vocabulary or boundaries
Adult inability to teach children appropriate sexuality due to cultural norms and embarrassment
Social norms giving children lower status than adults
A child's predisposition to love unconditionally and trust implicitly
Desire to please
Values stressing family honour
Dysfunctional family
Low self-esteem of the child
Having few friends/ being isolated


I am filled with shame, disgust, guilt and low self-esteem. What I thought all along was affection, I realise now - after 12 years of sexual relationship with my uncle - was sexual abuse. AP, a 15 year old victim

There are no prototype sexual abusers of children. They could be anyone. Fathers, mothers, siblings, stepparents, grandparents, and other family members (uncles, aunts, cousins), neighbours, caregivers, religious leaders, teachers, coaches in short, or anyone else who is in close contact with children. While we cannot teach children to suspect everyone around them, it is imperative to coach them on personal safety that can help prevent sexual abuse.

When preparing children, it is very important to:

Teach them to trust their feelings. Tell them it is OK to say no when someone they know and care about does something they do not like.

Instruct them about the difference between good touch and bad touch and that secrets about touching are not OK. Tell them that a touch that makes them uncomfortable or upset in any way must be reported at once. Children also need to understand that people they know could be capable of doing hurtful things.

Get yourself and the child comfortable discussing sexual abuse and referring to body parts by their proper names. A very important factor that keeps children from disclosing abuse is their lack of vocabulary of their private parts and therefore the resulting inability to describe acts of sexual abuse. Children are usually not taught the correct names for the private parts, and are told that "nice girls/boys" don't use those words that refer to private body parts or sexual behaviour. Debunk this.

Give the child a sense of self-esteem and confidence.

Involve your child in setting up a safety plan that is easy to remember. The plan must include a list of people the child can call for advice, information, and help.

He gave me fabulous presents. He made me feel worthwhile. JD, a preteen who was abused by a coach

Abusers are not necessarily shadowy and frightening strangers. In fact, most often abusers are family members or acquaintances --people the victim trusts. More often than not, an abuser is a regular kind of person with a normal, routine life.

In the words of a convicted child molester, Parents are so nave. Theyre worried about strangers and should be worried about their brother-in-law. They just dont realize how devious we can be. I used to abuse children in the same room with their parents and they couldnt see it or didnt seem to know it was happening.

When abusers target a child, they generally follow a plan that goes thus: Pick someone who can be safely victimized. Spend time observing and then tricking the child into performing sexual acts so that the victim appears to be a willing partner. Manipulate the apparently "willing victim" through encouragement, coercion, surveillance, constraint and bribery.

The abuser chooses a target. They work at or visit places where they can have easy access to children: schools, playgrounds, parks, children's homes, community and family gatherings. Other abusers strike up relationships with parents and adult caregivers of children.

Abusers engage their victims in different ways, using a combination of charm and "bonding". They may offer to play games, give rides, or buy treats and gifts as tokens of friendship. They may offer drugs or alcohol to older children or teenagers. And they almost always offer a sympathetic, understanding ear. Your parents dont understand or respect you? I do. Other kids make fun of you? I know what that's like. I suffered the same way when I was your age. I trust you. I respect you. I care for you more than anybody else. And I love you. Im here for you.

Predators use the bonding process to break down a childs defenses and increase the childs acceptance of touch. It breaks down inhibitions and leads the predator to his or her ultimate goal.

At some point secrecy is usually introduced. Here are some sweets. But dont tell your friends because theyll be jealous, and dont tell your mother because she won't like you eating between meals. Then come the threats: If you tell your mother what happened, shell hate you. Itll upset her. Ill kill her. Ill kill you.


My son had grown very withdrawn after he joined his new school. I thought it was just problems coping with the new environment. Until one day I discovered bloodstains on his underpants. He had been bleeding from the rectum. PR, the mother of a school going boy who was abused by his school watchman

The best way to recognize that a predator is lurking is to pay attention to your child and the people in your childs life. Talk to your children. Teach them to recognize inappropriate behavior. Teach them to be wary of any physical contact initiated by an adult. Ask questions. Stay involved. And teach them to trust you with their problems and their pain. The safest child is the child who knows she/he can bring his/her problems and concerns to parents and adult caregivers. And look out for the warning signs of abuse.

Physical signs

Difficulty in walking or sitting
Anxiety related illnesses, such as anorexia or bulimia
Discomfort in urinating or defecating
Recurrent urinary infections
Evidence of physical trauma, to the oral, genital or anal areas, manifested as bleeding, discharge, soreness and/or itching
Bruising and other injury to breasts, buttocks, thighs and other parts of the body
Sexually transmitted disease in a child of any age
Unexplained pregnancy

Behavioural signs

Learning problems, inexplicable fall in academic grades, poor memory and concentration
Reluctance to participate in physical or recreational activities
Regression to younger behaviour, such as thumb-sucking, acting like a baby, bedwetting and/or speech difficulties
Tendency to cling or need constant reassurance
Sudden accumulation of money or gifts
Complaining of headaches, stomach pains or nausea without a physiological basis
Fatigue and sleeping difficulties
Poor self-care/personal hygiene
Social withdrawal (such as poor or deteriorating relationships with adults and peers)
Developing fears, phobias and anxieties (A fear of a specific place related to abuse, a particular adult, refusing to change into sports/swimming clothes)
Wearing of provocative clothing, or layers of clothes to hide injuries and/or to appear unattractive
Sexual knowledge, behavior, or use of language not appropriate to age level
Sexual inference in children's recreational activities such as drawing, playing, singing etc.
Sexually abusive behavior towards other children, particularly younger or more vulnerable than themselves
Age inappropriate sexual behavior.
Child running away from home/school.
Self-injurious behavior, like alcohol or drug abuse, body-mutilation, getting in trouble with law, suicide attempts


I don't remember most of my childhood, except for brief flashes of when I was about three. I blocked out the experience of abuse, as many survivors do. A L, a victim who was abused by an uncle.

Why don't children report about abuse?
While a small percentage of children report about abuse when it happens, others may find it very difficult to do so out of a plethora of fears.

Fear Of Remembering: Sexually abused children often cope by pushing the experience as far back in their minds as they can, to "forget" and avoid feeling hurt again.

Fear Of Losing Love: Child victims often feel responsible for what happened to them. Because of these feelings, they worry that their parents and friends will stop loving them once they know about the abuse. They also fear the separation from loved ones that could result from their telling.

Fear Of Shame and Guilt: Children either know or can sense that their sexual experiences with adults are wrong. Abuse makes most victims feel dirty. This makes telling someone and acknowledging it occurred shameful. Older children have also been known to suffer more from a sense of guilt than younger children.

Fear Of Not Being Believed: Children fear that they will not be believed when they disclose about the abuse, which results in a feeling of helplessness.

Fear Of Being Blamed: Children fear that they will be blamed for any kind of sexual activity and that they were willing partners.

Fear Of Further Harm: Offenders often threaten their victims with harm to their families as a means of maintaining control. Victims then carry the burden of keeping their families safe by not telling.

At the time I was being abused I became a habitual liar. Was often overcome with anger and grief and hated myself. I am still very fearful of authority and have a great sense of shame about my body. My greatest aim in my life is to protect my children from the hell I have suffered. KC, a victim who was abused by an older cousin and an uncle over several years.

The effects of child sexual abuse vary from victim
to victim. There are however some common effects that have been observed:

Distrust of others and themselves.
Terror and anxiety.
Shame, guilt, and self-hatred.
Alienatation from their bodies.
Isolation and withdrawal from people and activities.
Powerlessness, depression, and extreme passivity.
Obsession with sex or complete aversion to it.
Questioning their sexuality and gender.
Drug and alcohol use, abuse and addiction.
Eating disorders.
Perfectionism and workaholism.
Mental illness and suicide.
Sexual offending.


I was 13 when I spoke to my parents, who got upset, made sure the perpetrator didn't visit us any more, and told me to get on with my life. It was only in my mid-30s that I found it impossible to ignore the sexual abuse I had undergone as a child. In about the year 2000, a psychotherapist in Bahrain worked with me for almost two years to help me to heal... " N T, a victim of child sexual abuse who now helps other victims deal with their trauma

It is not uncommon to feel shock, disbelief, denial, self-blame, anger, confusion and doubt, when a child reports sexual abuse. However, tackle the situation in the right manner can make a world of difference.

Believe the child. Children rarely make up stories about sexual abuse. Believing the child is also a major step in healing the hurt caused by abuse. Tell the child that it is not her or his fault.

Remain calm. Children are sensitive to and worry about your feelings. If you respond with anger, the child may feel you are angry with her/him. Children need to feel that they are no different from others because of the abuse. Remaining calm will help children to feel normal.

Assure the child of his or her safety in future. The child needs to believe that he or she is no longer vulnerable.

Affirm the childs feelings. Children must be allowed to voice their feelings and have them affirmed and taken seriously in order to continue the telling and healing process.

Tell the child what action can be taken. Victims of abuse lack control or options. They need to know that other people need to be involved to overcome sexual abuse. However, the child needs to feel a part of this process.

Support the child. Sexually abused children often feel that they are alone. They need as much positive adult support as possible.

Provide counseling facilities. Short term as well as long term counseling help the child cope with the trauma of abuse and minimise its impact.

Healing from child sexual abuse is possible, provided the right approach is adopted. The impact of child sexual abuse on each child may vary. A timely, proactive and appropriate response that is based on the strengths and resilience of each child in conjunction can work wonders.

[All technical information in this article is courtesy TULIR Centre for the Prevention and Healing of Child Sexual Abuse]

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Last edited by: jake3d on 16-03-08 12:20:46

Senior Desi
Member since: Sep 03
Posts: 2962
Location: Montreal

Post ID: 117446 16-03-08 12:13:03
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BlueLobsterMember of Administrators
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Thanks for sharing this, Jake.

Because of the exposure to this issue in the western media, a common assumption is that people in the west are perverts and this kind of abuse is very uncommon in India. This article should be an eye-opener for Indians who hold that view.

Are you there?

Post ID: 117456 16-03-08 16:10:26
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Senior Desi
Member since: Apr 05

Posts: 538
Location: Canada

A good eye opener irrespective of were it is happening. I remember my sister complaint about one of my dad's friend who would get too close to her and her friends on pretext of being an elder uncle. My dad initially would not react because he never thought a sensible adult in a good position would compromise his prestige for such an action. Also partly it is our weak law in India that prevents parents to take action against such people.
But as mentioned in the article we should believe what our child is complaining about and try our best to at least make them feel safe and comfortable.

Check for pervert's database here

Post ID: 117468 16-03-08 19:41:36
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Senior Desi
Member since: Jan 08

Posts: 269

Thanks for Sharing..
It is great info you shared. Thanks.

I heared while I was in india 3 yr back that GOA is a biggest centre for child sex and foreigner usually enjoy this spending big money.

I was a lot angry at that time listening this, but unable to protest that activity because I donot how and limited resources.

I appreciate the country like canada for being very strict in this regard. This is a bigggest thing in CANADA, that I like. If you guys know who is doing protesting activity in india, I will sure donate them and try to loud their voice.

એક જ ટીપામાં હો જાણે સાત સમંદર,
એવા ઝંઝાવાત હજુ હૈયાની અંદર

Post ID: 117475 16-03-08 21:49:03
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