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'Most child abuse victims reticent about ordeal'

Bangalore, Nov 19, 2013, DHNS: 2:15 IST

Experts, NGOs say not many agree to medical tests, fearing repercussions

Counselling the victims of child abuse and convincing them to narrate their ordeal are challenges child experts and nonprofit organisations find difficult to face.

As the World Day for Prevention of Child Abuse was observed on November 19, child experts and NGOs maintained that persuading the victims to undergo medical examination, in case of sexual abuse, is another difficult task.

“A 13-year-old girl was sexually abused by her own uncle this July. But convincing her to undergo a medical test was hard as she had been threatened. We did rounds of counselling sessions with her and parents. Finally she divulged the details and the report confirmed the abuse,” according to Jennifer Y, co-ordinator of Childline at Bangalore Oniyavara Seva Coota (Bosco).

The NGO then roped in the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) and police to take the next course of action against the culprit, she added.

The organisation received about five cases of child abuse in 2012 and three this year. CWC is a statutory body for ensuring the rights and addressing the needs of children in need of care and protection.

Kushi Kushalappa, Head of Community Project, Enfold Trust, another NGO, said parents of an abused child faced turmoils. “Parents need to wait for a long time to get the information once the abuse case is filed with the police. The abuse cases generally occur in poor families and parents are usually hesitant to approach the police or NGOs,” she said, stressing the need for having enough number of social workers in the City who can provide children psychosocial and legal support.

Dr C R Chandrashekhar, former professor, Department of Psychiatry, conceded there is a need to appoint more psychiatrists and child psychologists in the City’s hospitals.

“It is important to comfort the child and make him/her feel loved. A child who has undergone any form of abuse — be it physical, sexual, emotional, verbal or a combination of all of these — suffers from insecurity, anxiety and shows depression-like symptoms. Hence calming him/her is vital,” he said.

Collaborative Child Response Units (CCRUs) have been set up in six hospitals in the City: Bangalore Baptist Hospital, M S Ramaiah Hospital, Kempegowda Institute of Medical Sciences (Kims), Bowring Hospital, St John’s Medical College and Vani Vilas Hospital.
The CCRUs are where victims of child abuse are treated and their rehabilitation undertaken.

“CCRUs will soon be set up in eight districts of the State. If specific cases reach to us through our network of NGOs, we partner with child psychiatrists from Nimhans. We have not received any complaints about the lack of child psychologists or psychiatrists till date in the City,” said Gurneet Tej, the Director, Department of Child and Women Development.

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