Pervert minds

Sexual abuse of children is always troubling. When perpetrated by close relatives, especially the father or a brother, it becomes even more disturbing and painful. Two such cases of sexual abuse of minor girls by close kin have come out in the open in Kerala over the past week.

In one incident in Thalassery, a 13-year-old girl was allegedly being raped by her father, uncle and teenage brother over a period of two years. The child’s teacher informed police on learning of her abuse at home. It appears that the girl’s sister was also being raped and this may be the reason behind her suicide two years ago.

In another incident near Kottayam, two girls were being repeatedly raped by the father. Here it was the mother who raised the alarm. A little over a month ago, reports of sexual abuse of children living in a state-run juvenile home in Kottayam emerged. Their caretakers were abusing them. The recent incidents show that we have failed to secure our children even at home from sexual predators in the family.

Fifty-three per cent of children in India suffer some form of sexual abuse, with 50 per cent of them suffering such violence at the hands of a person who is in a position of trust – a father, teacher or friend. Rarely are such cases reported as notions of ‘family honour’ stand in the way of relatives of the victim going to the police. This shroud of silence enables the perpetrator to continue abusing his victim.

India has enacted strong legislation protecting children from sexual abuse. It recognizes that both girls and boys can be victims of sexual abuse. It provides for special courts for speedy trial and stringent punishment including life sentence for those sexually assaulting minors. However, there is little awareness of this law. Besides, our children are ignorant about sexual matters. How is a child to report sexual abuse when s/he is unable to distinguish between a ‘good touch’ and a ‘bad touch’?

How will she/he dare to speak up against a father or cousin if the family is regarded to be so sacrosanct that any public criticism of a kin is seen as being disrespectful? There is a need for parents and teachers to educate children so that when a sexual predator at home or school abuses the child, she/he will be able to recognise it. The incidents in Kerala are distressing. But they are not Kerala’s problem alone. Children across the country are vulnerable.

DH Newsletter Privacy Policy Get top news in your inbox daily
GET IT
Comments (+)