Newindpress on Sunday
Mar 13, 2006
Study dispels myths about child sex abuse in city
Friday March 10 2006 08:56 IST
Chennai Collector N Muruganandham releasing the copy of the research on child sex abuse. Andal Damodaran of ICCW is also seen
CHENNAI: Child rights activists have always known it. Now, it is out in black and white.
Forty-two percent of children between the age of 14 and 18 said they were abused and boys were as prone to sexual violence as girls, the first ever prevalence research in Chennai by Tulir, Centre for Prevention and Healing of Child Sexual Abuse, revealed.
The study said that 48 percent of the boys, who participated in the study, had been abused, in comparison to 39 percent of girls who reportedly faced abuse.
Alankar Sharma, one of the investigators, said, “While the numbers do establish that boys are vulnerable, this does not really indicate that boys are more vulnerable in the larger social reality. Girls report less abuse, given the patriarchy and the stigma attached to purity and loss of virginity.”
Chennai Collector N Muruganandham in the presence of ICCW’s Andal Damodaran released the research report on Thursday.
Another myth the research dispelled was that “…it (child abuse) does not happen in joint families because of greater degree of supervision’’.
Among the 748 persons who lived in joint families, 44.7 percent were abused and among 1,403 persons, the students from nuclear families, 41.9 percent reported abuse.
Vidya Reddy, Executive Director of Tulir, while explaining the need for the research, said, “There is a denial in our societies that abuse could exist, but the abuse is in direct violation of Article 19 of the United Nation Convention on Rights of Children.
“Any attempt to bring in legal frameworks in the country has been met with resistance given the absence of any qualitative study. This research, we hope, will dispel myths.’’
Tulir volunteers Alankar, Vipin and Nancy had written to over 400 schools in Chennai to enlist their involvement. Schools in private and public (both corporation and government-aided) domains in all socio-economic arms participated in the retrospective study.
A total of 2,211, mainly those in Class XI - given their basic knowledge of sexual education - were chosen for participation.
The volunteers spoke to the management, parents and the students about sexual violence on children and how it could be prevented. They set out describing abuse as a wide range of activity from non-contact forms such as voyeurism, exhibitionism to fondling, molestation and rape.
Nancy said that challenges such as age-appropriate questionnaire being prepared in both Tamil and English had to be surmounted.
In one case, one of the participants wanted to make a disclosure about ongoing or past incidents of abuse, Vipin said.
“A psychologist, a counsellor, and a doctor were at hand during the survey, ready if any child were to have a breakdown remembering suppressed incidents of abuse. Tulir’s contact details were given in case the children wanted to talk later,” he added.
Once armed with information about child sex abuse, most children said that touching of children’s private parts, exhibitionism and being forced into watching pornography were the commonest form of abuse. The research also noted that more severe the form of sexual abuse, the closer the abuser was to the child.
Strangers had the large part of the pie, when it came to less severe offences such as touching a child’s private parts; but it was personal and family acquaintances such as friends, teachers, domestic help and neighbours and immediate family that were reported to be involved most in more severe offences such as oral sex and rape.