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CHILD Protection & Child Rights » Vulnerable Children » Children's Issues » Child Sexual Abuse » Background to CSA

Background to CSA

'Three siblings were subjected to sexual abuse for eight months by their van driver in New Delhi in September 2010. Three minor girls were raped and murdered in Mumbai in February 2011'. Most people read about these incidents and move on to the next news item; believing that 'such incidents' happen to other children. The incidents listed above are not random occurrences, but represent the shocking reality of our country, which is home to 19 per cent of the world's child population.

India has the dubious distinction of having the world's largest number of sexually abused children; with a child below 16 years raped every 155th minute, a child below 10 every 13th hour and one in every 10 children sexually abused at any point of time. A study by the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) also showed that 53 per cent of the interviewed children reported having faced some form of sexual abuse and proved that boys were as vulnerable to abuse as girls.

This state of affairs prompted CHILDLINE India Foundation (CIF) to act, as the need of the hour is a prevention and awareness program for the community i.e children, parents and schools.

As we all know the three pillars of Child Protection are Prevention, Intervention and Rehabilitation. Though CIF plays an important role in all three, the 1098 service is more geared towards Intervention and Rehabilitation. Specifically in the case of Child Sexual Abuse (CSA), Prevention becomes the most important pillar, because if the case reaches the intervention stage where the child has been abused the damage is already done. The scars of abuse last a lifetime and affect many areas of the child's life including relationships, professional life etc. The experience of abuse can lead to anxiety disorders, substance abuse and depression also.

Though there are already a few programs targeting parents and schools on the issue of CSA, children, who are at the receiving end of abuse, are mostly ignored in preventive communication programs. CIF's Program aims to break the communication barrier about the issue between parents and children and encourages children to break the silence about a 'touching problem' and openly communicate on the subject with a trusted adult.

Globally, researches have shown that children who are taught about the difference between a safe and unsafe touch are empowered to prevent abuse and also are able to seek help if they find themselves in a situation of an unsafe touch. This is why age appropriate communication is extremely important in the fight against CSA.

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