Saturday, October 27, 2007

“Awareness of child sexual abuse low among doctors”

Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Anbumani Ramadoss with Andal Damodaran of Tulir at a seminar in Chennai on Saturday. Thomas George (left) of UNICEF is in the picture.
Date:28/10/2007 URL:

Special Correspondent

Anbumani Ramadoss says major barrier to addressing the issue is not acknowledging it exists

CHENNAI: Medical professionals, police and the judiciary should be sensitised on sexual abuse of children, Union Minister for Health Anbumani Ramadoss said here on Saturday.
Addressing an inter-disciplinary seminar for medical professionals on detection and management of child abuse, organised by Tulir, at the Institute of Child Health here, Dr. Anbumani concurred with the organisation’s trustee Andal Damodaran that there was a lack of awareness among doctors.
Awareness of child abuse was low in society, quite unmatched by the extent to which it was prevalent.
Quoting from a recent study by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, he said two out of every three children were being physically abused. Of this, over 88 per cent was being abused by their parents.
As for child sexual abuse, over 53 per cent of children confessed to being abused and 50 per cent of this group had been abused by a person known to the child.
Even this could be the tip of the iceberg, he said. “These figures are alarming. The major barrier to addressing the issue is not acknowledging it exists. We have not yet recognised it exists in society,” Dr. Anbumani said.
He urged the dean of Madras Medical College, T.P. Kalanidhi, who was present on the occasion, to conduct a training for the medical fraternity and promised that the Ministry would fund it.
The Ministry for Women and Child Development had also issued a code for medical professionals examining a child for sexual abuse, he said. The media had a role to play in sensitising the public.
Health secretary V.K. Subburaj said there was no legislation against child abuse, but the State Government had initiated life skills education programme for students of Classes IX and XI.
Over 18 lakh school children in 10,000 schools would be covered under the programme, which would instruct the children on various life skills, in addition to providing information on HIV/AIDS and how to protect themselves.
He suggested that perpetrators of child sexual abuse be severely punished.
Vidya Reddy of Tulir said the organisation had prepared orientation models for children, right from the pre-school level. They elaborated on the difference between a good touch and a bad touch and what to do when they felt unsafe. The seminar was the fourth such organised by Tulir. Sarada Suresh, director, ICH, and MMC Dean Thiagavalli Kirubakaran spoke.
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