Monday, April 9, 2007

Abuse of Indian children

Abuse of Indian children 'common'
Each one of us can strive for a civil society.
Commentary by Mike Ghouse, April 9, 2007

Amidst all the good news we receive, we need to be aware of the sad things happening in India in terms of how we treat our children and women folk.

In my high school days, I remember a guy from the business community who raped his own daughter and had the gall to tell everyone that she was his property. The whole town spat when they passed in front of his house.

I remember a farmer, whose two sons got the beating of their lives by their step mother (not-married), the kids were chained on their ankles to the column in their yard, as kids we felt very sad and used to cry seeing them. This story came back alive when I was watching the soap "thodi khusi, thode Gham" when Mansookh Shah was relating his child hood story in the show a few weeks ago.

Abuse of women has been around from times immemorial, those men are very insecure in their lives, that is the only way they feel manly by beating their wives. I have seen a rich medical doctor beating his wife on the street, when she was walking to the food training school in Bangalore where I was one of the administrators.

Many of the Subcontinentians, when they visit home, they certainly feel sad the way the servant (helper)boys and girls are treated. I have heard from many of you who have taken a stand to change the social order, at least around your families. Good for you. If we have to export one good value from America , that is the one, treating people with dignity and respect. I am sure the Americans working in India will have a deep impact on our society.

I hope, as we enrich ourselves with the wealth, we also enrich ourselves with civility. There is a joy, when we free ourselves from ill-will, hate, anger and insecurities.

The first step is to remove any kind of bias, there are a few among us, who use derogatory terms when referring to African Americans, if you see someone speak like that, please speak up. That is the right thing to do. If you see someone speak ill of any one, ask them to be free from such bondage and enjoy the freedom that comes from living a prejudice free life. We really should listen to our kids, they have cleaner hearts than many of us.

It is hard to achieve 100% goodness, but it is worth starting with that goal on the mind. May all of us strive to be a good human being and enjoy the sereneness that comes with it.
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Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer. His articles can be found at , , and and he can be reached at

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Abuse of Indian children 'common'
By Geeta Pandey
BBC News, Delhi

India tightens child labor laws:
Educating child laborers:
Child laborers freed in Bombay:

This is the first time India has done such a survey on child abuse
Two out of every three children in India are physically abused, according to a landmark government study.

Commissioned by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, the study says 53% of the surveyed children reported one or more forms of sexual abuse.

This is the first time the government has done such an exhaustive survey on the controversial issue of child abuse.

Abuse of children, particularly sexual abuse, is rarely admitted in India and activists have welcomed the study.

Releasing the report at a press conference in the capital, Delhi, Minister for Women and Child Development Renuka Chowdhury said: "In India there's a tradition of denying child abuse. It doesn't happen here is what we normally say.

"But by remaining silent, we have aided and abetted the abuse of children."

Thousands quizzed

Describing the findings of the study as "disturbing", Ms Chowdhury called for an end to the "conspiracy of silence".

The issue of child abuse has been raised in the past by non-governmental organisations, but this is the first time an attempt has been made by the government to document the scale of the problem.

The study took two years to complete, and covered 13 states where 12,247 children (between five and 12) and 2,324 young adults (over the age of 12) were quizzed.

Dr Loveleen Kacker, the official in charge of child welfare in the ministry, compiled the report.

She said the study had revealed that contrary to the general belief that only girls were abused, boys were equally at risk, if not more.

She said a substantial number of the abusers were "persons in trust and care-givers" who included parents, relatives and school teachers.

Ms Chowdhury said the findings of the study were disturbing
Dr Kacker said a disturbing finding of the study had been that 70% had not reported the abuse to anyone.

Besides surveying physical and sexual abuse, the study also collected statistics on emotional abuse and neglect of girls.

The study called for efforts to make society aware of the rights of children and officials say the data will help them formulate better policies to protect children.

'One too many'

The report has been welcomed by child rights activists who say such a study was sorely needed in India.

Roland Angerer, country director of Plan International, told BBC News it was "very important that the government has finally taken up the issue".

"It doesn't matter what statistics say. Whether the percentage of abused children is 75 or whether it is 58 is unimportant. Each child that is abused is one too many," he said.

"It's important that parents and adults must learn that children are not property, that they have rights too."

In India, parents are often reluctant to admit child abuse and sexual abuse of children involving family members is almost always hushed up.

The study also collected data on how girls are neglected
Perhaps that is why - as the study shows - more than 50% of the young adults surveyed wanted the matter of abuse to remain within the family.

Only 17% of the abused young adults wanted harsh punishment for the abusers.

Officials and activists say the biggest challenge for the authorities and society is to ensure that children are encouraged to report abuse.

India is home to almost 19% of the world's children. More than one-third of the country's population - 440m people - is made up of children below 18 years of age.

According to one study, at least 40% of these children are in need of care and protection.

The country has millions of child workers.

Many are employed in hazardous industries and also in homes and small restaurants, which makes them vulnerable to violence and exploitation.

Last year the government banned children under 14 from being employed in homes and at restaurants to avoid their exploitation and abuse, but millions of children continue to work in these sectors.

India is a signatory to various international laws on the protection of children, but implementation of these laws is often lax.

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