Sexual Violence against Children – Human Rights Issue

INTRODUCTION

Our Children are the future of the nation. Still, in age of innocence, they are being assaulted. Child sexual abuse is a crime so common, so hideous and yet, completely unspoken about within the Indian society. “Children” in any society, constitute the most vulnerable which needs “protection” and they are a responsibility of the state as well as the members of the society. It is this vulnerability that has made them pawns in the society. Child abuse is the physical, emotional and mental mistreatment or neglect of children. Sexual violence against children is an evident violation of children`s rights. Yet it is a universal reality across all countries and social groups.

According to The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, a child as any person below the age of 18 years and provides protection to all children under the age of 18 years from  the offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, child sexual abuse is “any completed or attempted sexual act, sexual contact with, or exploitation of a child by a caregiver.” It is a much too common occurrence that results in harm to millions of children, boys and girls alike, in large and small communities, and across a range of cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds.

These acts are perpetrated by many   types of offenders, including men and women, strangers, trusted friends or family and people of all sexual orientations, socioeconomic classes, and cultural backgrounds . It can take the shape of sexual abuse, harassment, rape or sexual exploitation in prostitution or pornography. It can happen in homes, institutions, schools, workplaces, in travel and tourism facilities, within communities both in development and emergency contexts as well as in non emergency contexts in developed countries. According to the World Health Organization, every child has the right to violence free health and life. Children Sexual Abuse occurs when children are subjected to a sexual activity that they cannot understand, with which they have an incompatible development, cannot consent and/or that violates society laws or rules.

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CAUSES

The relative lack of viability of the human infant, the helplessness and defenselessness of young children, make them easy targets for sexual abuse, molestation, prostitution, pornography and therefore, destruction. Values and beliefs about issues pertinent to child sexual abuse are, sexuality, nudity, discipline practices, family boundaries, respect for elders, personal and familial privacy, family roles, acceptance of strangers, and help-seeking attitude are all influenced and often guided by the family’s and society’s cultural, religious and racial or ethnic identification. Child sexual abuse is never anyone’s fault but of the offender. It is perpetrated against children and young people of all ages and in families from all backgrounds, religions and economic situations. Sexual abuse is related with discriminatory attitudes to women and sex that men learn from a young age, as well as unique power relationships between men and women and adults and children. Major reasons are – Poverty, Lack of education,  Violence between family members, Lack of support from the extended family, Loneliness and social isolation, Unemployment, Inadequate housing, Sexual urges and willingness to act on these, power and control issues,Traumatic childhood experiences troubled families

EFFECTS

There is no language or rationale that a child can find to make sense of the sexual abuse being committed upon it. So the mind begins on a journey of generating masks and fences to give some “acceptable” form to the terror within, leading to a number of complex issues in adulthood, which leads to feelings o f guilt, shame and, above all, silence. There will be sudden physical, emotional and behavioral changes in the child, some of them might indulge into – Alcohol and Substance abuse, Aggression, Disrupted peer relations, Homosexuality, Hyperactivity, Impaired trust, Low self esteem, Lying, Sexualized behavior, Sleep problems.

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CHILD AND HUMAN RIGHTS

Notwithstanding the commitments made towards children`s rights in the international instrument and national laws, in reality children across the globe continue to
experience a multiplicity of human rights violations, often at the hands of the very people who are supposed to nurture and protect them. The right to be a human being is the fundamental requirement which everywhere people are aware and which they deserve by the very fact of existence. Though the children cannot claim rights for themselves, they may exercise their rights by proxy, i.e. rights to be claimed by parents, guardians or other concerned adults on their behalf. The lives of children rights by proxy, i.e. rights to be claimed by parents, guardians or other concerned adults on their behalf. The lives of children are a public concern which can be met by promoting children’s rights. One of the issues impairing this vision for the country’s future generations is the evil of child sexual abuse. Statistics revealed by the National Crime Records Bureau reveal that there has been a steady increase in sexual crimes against children. According to a study regulated by the Ministry of Women and Child Development in 2007, over half of the children surveyed reported having faced some form of sexual abuse, with their suffering aggravated by the lack of specific legislation to provide remedies for these crimes. Child abuse comprises a violation of the most basic rights of children and adolescents, which are enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Children have distinctive rights, such as the right to receive primary education, the right to recreation, the right to adoption etc. The United Nations International Committee on the Rights of the Child has emphasized the importance of member countries prohibiting all forms of physical punishment and degrading treatment of children (CRC, 2006). The Convention on the Rights of the Child legitimizes the concept of child’s rights. The Convention is the first globally binding treaty protecting children civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights 22 during peacetime and armed conflict. It also recognizes child rights as a political issue, which requires commitment from the State.

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Author: PRANJALI PANDYA,
Damodaram Sanjivayya National Law University, Visakhaptnam,

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