The consequences of a violent sexual assault for minor victims are much higher than their adult counterparts, both in terms of physical damage and the mental trauma.
In the past three months as many as six minors have fallen prey to sexual predators in the Capital. The cases of a five-year-old girl who was brutalised by her neighbour and his friend and that of a six-year-old in a public toilet in Badarpur are the latest additions.
Dr Sameer Malhotra, head, Department of Mental Health & Behavioural Sciences, Max Hospital, said sexual abuse may lead to several disorders in a child.
“The child may get subjected to post-traumatic stress disorder. Children have nightmares, flashbacks, emotional upheavals, eating disorders, dissociated symptoms, feeling of insecurity and so on. It also affects their relationships and trust factor. They also develop a fear of revisiting the place of act,” he said.
The trauma is worse among minor rape victims because for them the degree of violation of the body is greater since they have under-developed organs, said Dr Nimesh G Desai, director, Institute of Human Behaviour & Allied Sciences.
“She may not be aware of the brutality of the sexual abuse but the scale of violation on her body is severe. It has a lasting traumatic impact on her mind. The trauma of the child gets aggravated during police interrogation and medical examination. Hence, the police and doctors should be more sensitive in such cases,” said Dr Desai.
Patients under severe trauma either go into a state of shock or total withdrawal. “The victim should be given time and space to recover. The child should be made to feel safe and secure,” said Dr Desai. He said that if not handled well, trauma may lead to depression and suicidal tendencies in the patient.
“There are two areas of concern worth highlighting. First, there are cases of incestuous sexual abuse in our society and abuse of homeless and mentally ill people. These cases hardly come to light,” he said.