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 Table of Contents    
Year : 2017  |  Volume : 59  |  Issue : 6  |  Page : 145
DLN Murthy Rao Oration Child Sexual Abuse in Indian Context: Fact or Fiction

Vice Chancellor, Dr D Y Patil University ; Kolhapur (Maharashtra), D. Y. Patil Vidyanagar, Kasba Bawda, Kolhapur, 416006, Maharashtra, India

Click here for correspondence address and email

Date of Web Publication3-Jan-2017

How to cite this article:
Behere PB. DLN Murthy Rao Oration Child Sexual Abuse in Indian Context: Fact or Fiction. Indian J Psychiatry 2017;59, Suppl S2:145

How to cite this URL:
Behere PB. DLN Murthy Rao Oration Child Sexual Abuse in Indian Context: Fact or Fiction. Indian J Psychiatry [serial online] 2017 [cited 2021 Oct 16];59, Suppl S2:145. Available from:

Child abuse is physical, emotional or in the form of neglect, but sexual abuse is considered the severest form of child maltreatment. Child sexual abuse includes a wide range of sexual behaviours that take place between a child and an older person and these behaviours are usually directed towards pleasuring the older person.

Nearly 19 % of World's Children live in India and form 42 % of Indian population. The topic of child sexual abuse is a taboo in India and a conspiracy of silence exists around this subjects and a large chunk of people who feel it is a largely western problem.

Although it is a universal phenomenon, in India it is an under reported offence but has acquired the nature of epidemic. Across the country studies reported that there is one or other form of sexual abuse being faced by every second child. Surprisingly, every fifth child is facing severe forms of sexual abuse. Results of the famous study 'Study on Child Abuse India 2007'conducted by the Ministry of Women and Child Development acted as an eye opener. This suggests the need to increase the awareness regarding CSA and sensitize the prime persons in a child's life viz. parents, teachers and peers, who can bring a definite change in the intervention by reporting it early.

There is need of sensitization of children, parents & teachers in school. Teachers in school themselves are inadequately sensitized and sex education is a mere formality. The post disclosure protocol needs to be strictly followed by any caregiver as it might lead to child mistrusting everyone if disclosure is not appropriately and empathetically addressed.

Girls are more prone than boys and school going children (7 -13years) forms the most vulnerable age group. There are many unreported and un-noticed cases. In a majority of cases of child sexual abuse the abuser is a known or even a family member. On the notion "Axe soon forgets but the tree remembers", CSA is considered to be a universal problem with lifelong significant impact nearly in all aspects of life. All CSA victims need therapy and early intervention to prevent later symptomatology.Children tend to face Psychological, behavioral and social difficulties. A correlation exists between childhood abuse and sexual abuse to the adulthood psychiatric disorders, the etiopathogenic pathway may vary individually and is difficult to discern. Higher levels of depression, guilt, eating disorders somatic concerns, dissociative phenomenon and other psychiatric ailments such as post-traumatic stress disorder are documented in victims of sexual abuse. Thus, early intervention is highly encouraged and is based on notion of protect, suspect, inspect, collect and respect. The intervention ranges from risk assessment, interviews, assessment of behavioral and emotional functioning, a proper history and planning for victim tailored therapy.

India brought several reforms in the existing Indian laws to safe guard the interest of victims. The most recent amendment is "Criminal Law Act 2013". It is especially important in the Indian context to make sure that these laws are strictly implemented.

Finally, the reality lies in the fact that "everyone can and should report" suspected sexual abuse. Collaborative effort on the part of parents, teachers, NGO's, pediatricians and the children themselves is the need of the hour to help fight the problem of sexual abuse of children. Children's involvement in the child protection policy is a must and special focus in the areas of handling young perpetrators, sensitization of police personnel about contact and non-contact abuse and also the reintegration of referral services. Thus considering the magnitude of the problem, this is an effort to provide an overview of Child Sexual Abuse and intervention in the Indian scenario. The focus in tackling the problem of sexual abuse of children requires adoption of the five R's policy- Raising the issue, Reaching out, Remembering the risk factors, Recognizing warning signs and most importantly Reporting the suspect cases.

A recent Gallup poll regarding Sexual Offenders reported India to be amongst the bottom five countries in the world where the safety of women was concerned. Extensive research of past three decades suggests that several mental health issues underlie sexual offences. Understanding relationship between psychopathology of the sexual offender can contribute to the development of more effective treatment. We want to study the psyche of the offender. A project in Our University on Mental Health Assessment of Convicted Sexual Offenders has been formulated to study this aspect of the problem of sexual abuse.

Law and Sexual Abuse : Some landmark cases in India have brought about a change and amendments in the law. The ones which stand out are 'The Mathura rape case' that amended the Indian rape law via the Criminal law. Unlike many other countries laws in India do not distinguish child sexual abuse from rape. Juvenile Justice Act 2000 does not specifically address the issue of Child Sexual Abuse. There existed not a single law till Goa Children's Act, 2003 which was the only specific piece of Child Abuse legislation, before 2012 Act - The 'Protection of Children against sexual offences Act 2012 ( POSCO). The Justice Verma Committee recommendations suggested ways to make rape laws stronger in our country and submitted its report on 23 January 2013. The report suggested amendments of criminal law, to provide higher punishment to rapists including those belonging to police and public servant. Up to life imprisonment or death by hanging if the act causes death of victim or leaves her in a permanent vegetative state. Repeat offenders may get death penalty under the new law. For successful intervention of child sexual abuse, a multidisciplinary, multiagency team approach is necessary.

Commonly associated misconceptions with this issue are that - abuse is always violent, only bad people abuse their children, child abuse doesn't happen in "good" families, most child abusers are strangers, abused children always grow up to be abusers.

Addressing these misconceptions is the need of the hour. A child's best interest can be served only when all the related agencies work in unison keeping the ultimate goal in mind i.e., the welfare of the child. Interagency coordination and planning among social workers, physicians, therapists, prosecutors, judges, and police officers have an important role in handling such cases.

We have submitted research proposal to Indian Council of Medical Research entitled Prevalence, determinants and awareness regarding child sexual abuse in urban and rural school going children of Kolhapur and Wardha District.

Correspondence Address:
Prakash B Behere
Vice Chancellor, Dr D Y Patil University ; Kolhapur (Maharashtra), D. Y. Patil Vidyanagar, Kasba Bawda, Kolhapur, 416006, Maharashtra
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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