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Sexual Abuse in Shelter Homes
  • By: admin
  • Date: 12 Feb 2020
  • Sexual Abuse
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Sexual Abuse is the act of molestation, coercing or physically forcing a sexual act or non-consensual touching to any other person. Child sexual abuse is a form of abuse that involves sexual activity with a minor.

In 2012, a significant step was taken by the Indian parliament to enact its first law outlining the crime of Child sexual abuse in India. Until then, there was no law to govern child sexual abuse. Prior to the act of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, the sexual abuse was covered in different laws that were not designed for the crime of child abuse specifically. For example, if a girl was abused sexually, the perpetrator could be charged with assault and outraging the modesty of a woman. And if the boy was abused, then the accused could be charged under the homosexuality law.  But this would only happen if the police or prosecutor thought the law could cover such acts.

Recognizing the need to prevent women and children from exploitation and to support their survival and rehabilitation, the concept of the shelter home was introduced in India. They provide temporary accommodation, maintenance and rehabilitative services to women and children rendered homeless due to various reasons like crime, violence, family discord, mental stress, etc. The Supreme Court said that the mechanism developed was not adequate to restrict incidents of sexual abuse of women and children at shelter homes and asked the Ministry to formulate a child protection policy.

Recently the cases of abuse of women and children in shelter homes have come to light again. The rapes in shelter home raise the question  ‘are the children and women in shelter house really safe?’

The worst-case scenario is when the protector becomes the hunter, and the one to be safeguarded falls prey. There are hundreds of child shelter homes in India where we don’t know the actual status of innocent young lives and their treatment. At a time where shelter homes, tasked with the safety of women, whether in Muzzafarpur or Deora are found guilty of raping women, the news about child shelter homes pushing small kids on the cusp of human trafficking and molestation is despicable and fraught with severe pain and agony.

The shelter homes are meant to take care of women and children who have been traumatised by their circumstances. But, it is difficult to deny the fact that the children are starved, beaten and assaulted sexually, leaving them in a mental wreck for the rest of their lives.

In the Muzaffarpur case, 34 girls aged 7 to 17 years were allegedly raped for months, and most of them have an impairment in speech. With the media attention and political stir over the case, the Supreme Court stepped in to ensure that the victims do not get into the limelight of the case. The girls are now placed in shelters across the state and are being counselled.

The increasing number of cases against children in shelter homes magnifies the need for mental healthcare. The National Policy for Children 2013 talks about giving adequate mental healthcare services to children, awareness and understanding about this subject is at a very nascent stage. Besides the exploitation these children undergo in these shelter homes, many of the unregistered ones are also indulging in an illegal adoption.

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Child Sexual Abuse

By: admin Sexual Abuse 18 Apr 2019

Child Sexual abuse is an abuse in which an adult or older uses a child for sexual activities. Whether by asking, pressurising or by any other means such as indecent exposure, child grooming, or by using them to produce child pornography.

Child sexual abuse can take place at home, school, classes or workplace, where child labours work, etc. In India, the main reason for sexual abuse is child marriage. That is the reason why the Indian Government has decided and declared the age limit for marriage, but in some states, child marriage never ends up. Sexual abuse of child includes depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, mentally unstable, anxiety, physical injury etc.

United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF): 

It's a United Nations (UN) program. It's headquartered in New York City that provides humanitarian and developmental assistance to children and mothers in developing countries. The organisation began its work in India in 1949 with three staff members and established an office in Delhi three years later.

Causes for Child Abuse:
Child abuse is a complex phenomenon with multiple causes. No single factor can be recognized as to why some adults behave so violent towards the children. World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Society for Prevention of Child abuse (ISPCAN) identify the multiple factors at the level of the individual, their relationships, and their local community.

At the individual level, the same factors include sex, age and personal history, while at the level of society; determinant that contributes to child maltreatment includes cultural norms encouraging harsh and physical punishment of children, the lack of social safety nets and economic inequality.

Three Types Of Child Sexual Abuse:

Sexual Assault – It is an act in which a person intentionally sexually touches another person without that person's consent or coerces or physically forces a person to engage in a sexual act against their will.  It is also an offence in which an adult uses a minor for sexual fulfilment; for example, rape and sexual penetration with an object.

Sexual Exploitation – It is a term defining offences in which an adult deceives a minor for advancement, sexual satisfaction, or profit; for example, prostituting a child, and creating or trafficking in child pornography.

Sexual Grooming – It is establishing an emotional connection with a child, and sometimes the family, to lower the child's inhibitions with the objective of sexual abuse. It is social conduct of a potential child sex offender who tries to make a minor more accepting of their advances, for example in an online chat room.

The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012:-

The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 was passed to provide a robust legal framework for the protection of children from offences of sexual assault, pornography and sexual harassment, while safeguarding the interest of the child at every stage of the judicial process. The Act was passed to strengthen legal provisions for the protection of children below 18 years of age from sexual abuse and exploitation.

Under this Act, if any girl under 18 is seeking an abortion, the service provider is compelled to register a complaint of sexual assault with the police. However, under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, it is not compulsory to report the identity of the person is seeking an abortion. Consequently, service providers are hesitant to provide abortion services to girls under 18.

Punishment under the POSCO Act: The central government recently amended the POSCO Act, regarding rape against the girl child and the punishment is as follows:

  1. In the case of gang-rape of a girl below the age of 12, the punishment is the Life imprisonment or death penalty.  
  2. In the case of rape of a girl below the age of 12, the punishment will be- death penalty, life imprisonment or minimum imprisonment of 20 years.
  3. In the case of gang-rape of a girl below the age of 16, the punishment will be- imprisonment for the rest of life.
  4. In case of rape of a girl below the age of 16, the punishment will be- imprisonment for 20 years (earlier 10 years) which is extendable for rest of life.
  5. In the case of rape of a woman, the minimum punishment has been provided to be 10 years (earlier 7 years) which is extendable to life imprisonment.

Note: To learn more about the laws and procedures, you can contact us at Legato app where we help you in connecting with experienced lawyers who can assist you with the documentation and procedural aspects.

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