- The body of a five year old girl was found in Bangalore with bite marks all over it, post-mortem reports suggest that she was stabbed until she died.
- An eleven year old boy was tortured with a hot iron rod and locked in a madrassa for eight days by Imams.
News reports like these not only horrify and anger me, but also make me wonder-Does Indian not love its children, or else how could one think of carrying out such cruel and barbaric acts on a little child? And these are not the only cases; India has seen cases like Baby Falak, a two year old who succumbed to injuries after being brutalized by adults whose care she was left in. Lately it was the little baby in Bikaner who died after being assaulted by her father so aggressively that he bit her nose off. And these are only cases which have been reported, can you image the thousands of cases which have do not come into the light.
Traditionally, in India the responsibility and care of children lies with families and communities, though people rarely realize that children, as young as they may be, are individuals in their own right and need to be respected. Child abuse may be in the form of physical, sexual, neglect, emotional and exploitation. Any of these are harmful to the growth and development of the child’s health, survival and dignity.
Physical abuse, like in the cases mentioned above happens when a child is physically harmed by the interaction or lack of interaction by a person who has been entrusted with the care and responsibility of the child.
In 2007, The Ministry of Women and Child Development released a study of child abuse in India. The figures were startling, 150 million girls and 73 million boys under the age of 18 have been victims of sexual abuse. And these horrifying tales come from a country which apparently loves children? I don’t think so!
Child Abuse in India is easy to hide because it usually happens in the home and by a family member. Forms of child abuse in the form of prostitution and child labour and child marriage are easier to spot because they are clearly visible, though forms of abuse that happen in homes or schools are easy to conceal. Children in India are highly dependent on their parents and find themselves in submissive roles in front of elders and as a result of this the child rarely come out with the abuse, due to which crimes like these go unreported and the criminals unpunished.
Unfortunately, India does not have a law to protect children against abuse that happens within the family. Mistreatment by parents, teachers and other care givers has a huge potential to emotionally and mentally harm a child greatly. Here is where stronger laws need to be put in place, ensuring our children are safe to grow and bloom and enjoy a healthy and happy childhood.