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CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE AND LEGAL FRAMEWORK

Author: Kohina Jain, IV year of B.A.,LL.B.(Hons.) from Name Jagran Lakecity University Bhopal


ABSTRACT

Every aspect of our society today, whether it be in India or another nation, is plagued by a significant issue. The seriousness of the situation can be seen by taking even a quick, two-minute look at the headlines on any given day. However, nobody discusses it. The topic is frowned upon.


Fortunately, children can acquire the knowledge essential to protect them and avoid such circumstances. Tragically, it might not be enough. The proverb "It takes a society to raise a child" is true. As a result, it's critical to educate and counsel children as well as their caregivers, such as parents and teachers.[1] In this blog we will discuss about the child sexual abuse (CSA) and how it affected the children both mentally and physically. Also what is the role of parents and society to prevent the crime against the child. In the end there are some suggestions.


MEANING AND DEFINITION OF CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

Simply said, child sexual abuse (CSA) refers to any attempted or successful act of sexual satisfaction with, engaging, or involving a kid who is compelled, threatened, or forced to participate against his will. As a result, it is a mental or physical abuse of a kid with sexual intent that is typically committed by a person who holds a position of authority and trust over the child. Such a breach may also be committed for financial advantage. This definition is succinct, but it has broad, multifaceted consequences.


According to the United Nations, child sexual abuse refers to interactions or contacts between a child and an older or more experienced child or adult (a stranger, sibling, or person in a position of authority, a parent or a caretaker) in which the child is used as a sexual object for the older child's or adult's sexual needs. These interactions and contacts are conducted against the child and involve the use of coercion, fraud, bribery, threats, or pressure. A youngster in such situations is never competent to make an educated decision for themselves and can never be said to have given their assent.


Crime Against Child

It is significant to emphasise that "kid" in this context refers to anyone under the age of 18. Children of all genders are included in the word because it is gender neutral.


Rape and assault: Rape implies penetration during oral, vaginal, or anal contact. Such activities, when carried out without penetration, constitute sexual assault. The word "penetrative sexual assault" is used instead of the term "rape" in Indian law that aims to protect children from sexual offences.


Exhibitionism and Voyeurism: Voyeurism is the act of becoming aroused by secretly observing other people's naked bodies and genitalia or other sexual behaviours, such as watching a child bathe or change clothes or even witnessing a youngster being violated. This kind of abuse involves no physical contact.


Using Child for Prostitution: Child prostitution refers to the sexual exploitation of a child for remuneration in cash or in kind, usually but not always organized by an intermediary (parent, family members, procurer, etc.) .The child prostitutes are most often between 11 and 18 years of age. These children usually come from broken homes and lured by kind older men who promise them food and shelter. The child prostitution is closely connected with child pornography.


CONSEQUENCES AND IMPACT OF SEXUAL ABUSE

It is common knowledge that the consequences of having experienced sexual violence-abuse and trauma are many and far reaching. The situation is even worse when such instances occur in the emotional, societal and physical developmental stages of childhood. Although it is impossible to calculate the extent of permanent scarring that takes place in a child, a few consequences or results of child sexual abuse are as follows:

  • Death: Sexual violence when committed on a child of a very tender age can result in the death of the child. More recently, children and rape victim ms are being murdered by perpetrators to prevent getting caught. A child can sometimes be so traumatized so as to commit suicide as well.

  • Severe Injuries: Similar to the above, the use of force on a child to make him comply, especially by an adult or older child will result in severe injuries. This gets further aggravated when the abuse is in the form of rape.

  • Negative Coping/Behavioral Issues: A child experiencing sexual abuse will be confused and might also try to blame himself as he does not understand what is happening. As a result, he will act out or will resort to childhood behavior like bed wetting, thumb sucking. In some cases, a child may stop talking and remain silent.

  • Unintended Pregnancies: Reported cases show pregnancies as a result of sexual abuse in victims as young as 8-10 years. Not only are their young bodies not suited to carry a child or mentally equipped to handle the strain and consequences. Such unintended pregnancies may be potentially fatal for the victims.

  • Infertility: Sometimes the force exerted on a child might result in such severe trauma that the victim might be rendered infertile.

  • Non-Communicable Diseases and STDs: Sine most cases of sexual abuse happen without using protection/contraceptives- the victim might end up contracting a sexually transmitted disease.

  • Impair Brain and Nervous Development: Suffering such extreme trauma at a young age might result in retarded mental growth of the child as well as sluggish cognitive function.

  • Abusive/Violent Behavior towards others: Studies have shown that the victims of sexual abuse tend to inflict similar abuse on victims smaller or younger than themselves as a way to cope with trauma or to understand what happened to them.

  • Runaway, Dropouts, Juvenile Delinquency: High Risk Behavior- Reports show that most runaways from homes, school dropouts and underage criminals/offenders, known as juvenile delinquents, have experiences sexual abuse a child.

LEGAL FRAMEWORK FOR CSA

a. GOA CHILDRENS ACT, 2003

GCA is the first state legislation for child sexual abuse under the UNCRC in India. This act has given holistic approach to the victims in the case of child abuse. Notwithistanding, of this approach there are number of cases where the police hesisitate to registered the complaint of child sexual abuse.


b. INDIAN PENAL CODE, 1860

Crimes related to child sexual abuse before the formulation of POCSO ACT were dealt under Indian Penal Code. Following are the sections under which Child sex abuse crimes were prosecuted under IPC,1860

  • I.P.C (1860)- Section 375 Rape

  • I.P.C (1860)- Section 354 Assault or criminal force to Women with intent to outraging the modesty of women

  • I.P.C (1860) – Section 377 defines Unnatural Offences


The I.P.C did not sufficient for the protection of child and criminalization of conventional sexual abuses which are different from the cenvention crimes that are mention above in the form of Child Trafficking, Prostitution, Sale Of Children.


PROTECTION OF CHILD FROM SEXUAL ABUSE ACT, 2012

Now a days, there is sexual harassament and abuse news against children especially the girl child are becoming victims in most cases. Not only they are misused but also they are even raped and murdered. The examples are recently, Unavow case, Valayar case, Nirbhaya case[2], Mukesh verses state (NCT of Delhi) etc. To decrease the number of crimes against the children the government has introduced certain legislations through various judicial responses.


The Protection of Child from Sexual Abuse Act( POCSO), Act 2012, In 2012 framed in order to effective address sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children. To Impliment it in its proper siprit, pertinents amendments were also intoduced in the Indian Penal Code, 1860, the Code of Criminal Precedure and the Indian Evidence Act.


PREVENTION OF CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE : ROLE OF THE SOCIETY

As already mentioned, it takes a village to raise a child. While parents might bear the chief responsibility of protecting their children, they must get all the help and support possible from the civil society must let go of the age-old conventions of silence, shame, and embarrassment aimed towards victims of CSA and their families. Instead, a collective stand needs to be taken against the violation of a child’s dignity. Consequently, they also need to ensure that any victim of sexual violence can be seamlessly integrated into the society during the course of rehabilitation.


Parents Role

It is important for parents to know all facts about CSA and take every care to watch over their children and not leave them unsupervised. Teaching your kids about sex and sexual abuse is a big part of parenting. In this age where there is free flow of information, it is only natural for children to explore more about the matter. However, without the lack of supervision and adequate parenting, children can have a tainted view of the issue.


Educating about Body Parts

From the stage of infancy, teach children to name their body parts without feeling any shame. Private parts should not be taboo words or dirty secrets and should be capable of being named just like eyes, toes ,ear etc


Talking About Sexual Abuse

As parents, there is an inherent belief that something so ghastly can never happen with our children. But it may be noted here that the UNICEF has placed the proportion of children being sexually abused by known people to 50%. It also states that boys are also equally vulnerable to being sexually abused. There have been many incidents in India alone off late that have left us shaken and shocked. Infact, we may quote here a IBTIMES 2013 report which states that sexual offences against children in India have reached epidemic proportion.[3] Thus, it is not only important but critical to talk to children but sexual abuse in age appropriate terms.


Role of Teachers

While a parent may have the biggest influence on a child’s life when it comes to educating about healthy sexual development and reducing the risk of sexual abuse, many adults also play an impactful role—especially teachers. They have the potential to be an important safety net for kids who are at high risk for sexual abuse at home. Teachers, however, play an essential role in the prevention of child abuse and neglect.[4]


CONCLUSION AND SUGGESTION

Child Sexual Abuse is a scourge of Indian society and hence the Act was introduced in 2012. However, no law can be implemented effectively and efficiently, without the dedicated and coordinated efforts of the implementing agencies. A multidimensional approach is required in this regard, and the onus lies with the state governments, police department, judicial system, and medical fraternity to implement the act in letter and spirit and to respond to these cases with urgency, empathy, and compassion. Similarly, doctors also need to be trained to understand the intricacies and help in proper scientific collection of various evidences while examining the child victim of sexual abuse.


Compared to recent years, there is an increase in the number of cases being reported and the same is due to the awareness which was able to be created through various training and awareness programs along with NGOs and Friends of the Police. To improve the conviction rate, it is important to speed up both investigation and trial in court so that the survivor is not put under pressure to turn hostile. The trial in POCSO cases should be completed in one year but instead there is a huge number of cases pending in the courts. Also the entire process needs to be more children-friendly.


It’s children who make our life cheerful. We always smile when we see a child smile at us. So, why should we let that smile go away? Let’s bring that smile back and make sure that it never fades away. Even a small part we play will lead to a bigger goal of a society free of child sexual abuse.

[1]https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/news/pocso-act-amended-death-penalty-for-child-sex- abuse/article28363265.ece [2] (2017) 2 SCC (cri) 673 [3] https://www.ibtimes.co.uk/child-sexual-abuse-top-5-countries-highest-rates-1436162 [4] http://www.unicef.org/teachers/protection/prevention.htm