Eyes wide shut

Eyes wide shut

Child Abuse

Eyes wide shut

The case of the nine-year old child, who was raped and killed recently, is a pointer to the increasing cases of child abuse in the City.

 The brutalisation of children is rampant; added to that, people also refuse to talk about it. The result is that only a fraction of child abuse cases reach the doorstep of the police station.

Family prestige and fear of societal backlash continue to prevent parents and sometimes, even children, to talk about it openly. Those working with the Child Rights Commission, the police and educationists feel that not enough is being done to create awareness among children about the difference between a good and bad touch.

Much needs to be done to instill confidence in parents about not only talking to children about the possible abuses but also registering a case against the offender when the need arises. Metrolife interacted with the City police, officials with Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights and educationists to understand what prevents cases related to child abuse from coming out in the open and why people are hesitant to talk about the issue. 

Pranab Mohanty, additional commissioner of police (crime), points out that cases of child sexual abuse are prevalent in the City but not much is being done to help the victim come out into the open or talk about it. 

“Even if the paedophiles are caught and imprisoned, they will indulge in the same act when they complete their term in jail. There must be a stringent law to deal with paedophiles to prevent them from repeating the mistake,” he says. He states that the fear of losing the prestige of the family prevents parents from reporting cases of child abuse.

Fr Edward Thomas, member, Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, notes that both boys and girls face abuse and the cases aren’t diminishing in the City. 

“Most of the child abusers are known to the children. It could be a relative or a family friend. Children are always hesitant to talk openly with their parents but parents must encourage their child to trust somebody and confide in them, whenever they have faced abuse,” says Edward Thomas.  

He adds, “After a case of child abuse has been registered at the police station, it is immediately reported to the Child Rights Commission. There are people from both departments to ensure that no case goes missing but sadly, people are not willing to come out in the open.” 

Educationists and child counsellors feel the main reason why cases of child abuse are not known is because parents think that child abuse, especially sexual abuse, cannot happen to urban children or ‘my’ child. 

Educationist Swati Popat Vats, who has also worked with children, observes, “Usually when the child is abused, parents go into denial and refuse to acknowledge or report it. More often than not, it is a friend of the family or a relative or an older cousin who is indulging in it. Hence there is the fear of family feuds. In case it is a servant, driver, etc, then the social stigma is what parents are worried about.” 

She feels that schools and parents must talk to children about it. “This piece of information will instill confidence in children and they will be in a position to understand whenever they fall into a situation of a possible abuse,” she sums up.