A father was sentenced to prison for abusing, raping and showing pornography to his three children when they were minors.
child sex abuse case
With pressure mounting on India’s government over investigations into the gang rape of an 8-year-old girl, another brutal sexual assault and murder case is highlighting violence against minors and women in the country.
Last week, protesters took to the streets of Jammu and New Delhi over the death of Asifa Bano, an 8-year-old girl reportedly gang raped and murdered in the Kathua district last January. The killing has caused outrage in parts of the country, with eight men including a former revenue official and a police officer arrested over the brutal assault and murder.
“I will not break my fast till the PM ensures better safety for the women in this country,” she said, the Indian Express reported.
Now police in the western city of Gujarat say they have begun another investigation into a rape of a child that occurred on April 5. The case involves an 11-year-old girl, who was found dead at the side of a highway on April 6, Reuters reported.
“The body was recovered was on April 6… and according to a post mortem report, the girl was sexually assaulted and murdered on April 5,” Gujarat Police Commissioner Satish Sharma told Reuters.
“We have put our best teams in place with all senior police officials. To nab the criminals we first need to identify the body,” he added.
In a country where there is no fear of God or man, and no respect for women or children, can there possibly ever be hope? Is this horrific evil unstoppable? Certainly it is unstoppable as long as there is no clear will from governments to stop it, and that is most definitely the case.
Tucked away in obscure corners of government hospitals, clinics for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) have coughed up data that could be crucial indicators of child rape.
In 2017, nearly 900 children below 10 years were referred to these centers on suspicion of being victims of sexual abuse — double that of 2015.
The number is higher in the 11-15 years age group: 2,248 children consulted doctors in these centres last year, up from 1,475 two years ago, show statistics furnished by Tamil Nadu State Aids Control Society (TANSACS) in response to an RTI application by TOI.
Doctors say at least three in every 100 children in these age groups (below 15 years) test positive for a sexually transmitted infection. Test results of the rest either were negative or the children were too scared to name the perpetrators or the source. All their details remain mere squiggles in government hospital records.
Under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012, doctors have to report a medico-legal case in all incidents of child sexual abuse, failing which they could be sentenced to six months imprisonment and/or levied a fine under Section 21 of the Act.
The extent of underreporting reflects in the crime statistics. In 2016, 1,583 cases were registered under POCSO, including 1,169 cases of child rape. The same year, 8,871 children and adolescents consulted the DSRCs (Designated STI & Reproductive Clinics, I think). Around 35% tested positive for at least one STI.
In children, STIs can occur by sexual abuse, voluntary sexual contact or blood transfusion and needle pricks. A pregnant woman who has syphilis can also pass on the infection to the child. Doctors, however, say due to availability of better antenatal care, cases of congenital syphilis have declined consistently over the past two decades.
The state government has 157 designated clinics for STIs and reproductive tract infections (DSRC). TOI spoke to doctors in at least seven such centers. All of them had seen at least one child below 15 years who tested positive for an STI in the past two months. None of them reported this to the police. "They come through referrals," said a faculty from the department of dermatology and venerology, Government Mohan Kumaramangalam Medical College Hospital, Salem. "We presume doctors who are the first point of contact report if they suspect sexual abuse," he said. Asked if he shared the STI/RTI test results with the referee physician, he said, "Yes, if they ask for it."
Last year, the doctor saw a seven-year-old boy who had come to the hospital with a high temperature. The child was referred to him when the attending physician noticed lesions in his genital area. He tested positive for secondary syphilis. "He was clearly a victim," said the doctor. The child, accompanied by his grandmother, was asked to return for follow-ups. "He was always lively. But the minute we tried to extract information, he grew sullen," said the doctor. Three months later, the boy finally spoke — about how he was scared to sleep. Every time he slept, his grandmother’s partner would rouse him to rape him. When counsellors at the center advised his grandmother to lodge a police complaint, she immediately agreed. That was the last time they saw the child.
The designated STI clinic in the hospital in the past four years confirmed abuse to be the cause of STIs in at least six children — four girls and two boys — all below 10 years.
In a similar incident, a six-year-old boy from Villupuram – who had genital warts, a common STI symptom – vanished from the health department’s radar when he revealed to a counsellor in the government general hospital here that he had been sodomised by a senior in the government residential school he stayed in. Doctors treated the child, but when they asked his parents, both migrant labourers, to register a police complaint, they refused.
Most of the children, doctors say, come with viral STIs like herpes genitalis, secondary syphilis and warts.
The data has surprised health officials too. NACO requires DSRCs to maintain data of the number of overall attendees who are above 18 years old and below. "They don’t dwell too much on finding the transmission mode to ensure patient privacy. We hadn’t really thought of these records being an indicator of child abuse until now," said Dr K Senthil Raj, project director, TANSACS.
Not all referred to these clinics were victims of sexual abuse. The DSRC at the government general hospital in Chennai attended to 968 children below 18 years in 2017, 46% of them in the 11-15 years age group. Dr S Kalaivani, head of the department of venereology, said abuse accounted for less than 1% of the children the clinic received. "What we see now is a lot of sexual adventurism. There is an increase in boys, especially those staying in hostels, engaging in unsafe sex," she said, stressing on the need for schools to boost sex education. "And we need to start early. The sexually active age of children now starts at 12," she said.