For scores of children who are victims of sexual abuse and forced to suffer in silence, help is now a mouse-click away.
The government on Friday launched “e-box”– an online complaint box -- hosted in the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights website , where any child who has faced sexual harassment or abuse at school, home or elsewhere can log in and report the incident.
All that the child will have to do is click on the “e-box” icon, press on the pictorial option provided to show where he/she was harassed (playground, shop, road, school, tuition, family members, relative, internet, phone, etc.), give his number/e-mail id and submit the complaint.
Those who do not have access to the internet can call the childline at 9868235077 or a toll-free number 1098 and register their complaint.
And they need not fear about their identity getting divulged. After a complaint is reported, the case will be followed by specially trained counsellors who will track it keeping in view the position of the child as well as the abuser.
Women and child development minister Maneka Gandhi launched the e-box facility in the national capital on Friday.
“Sexual abuse of children often goes unnoticed and unreported. Children, being vulnerable, continue to suffer abuse without having any mechanism to report especially when the abuse takes place by someone close to the child,” Gandhi told HT.
Child abuse cases are rampant in India. A 2007 study by the WCD ministry, carried out in 13 states, found that over 53% of children have been subjected to sexual abuse or harassment. The study also revealed that in a majority of cases the children do not report such incidents because of fear or helplessness.
Gandhi said that the “e-box” has been specifically designed so that a child can easily use it.
A similar initiative called “Operation Nirbheek” was started in August 2015 by the Delhi Police. As part of the move, Delhi Police had installed complaint box across over 1000 schools in the city where a student could drop a letter reporting an abuse he/she has faced. Police officers of the respective localities then followed up the case. Over a dozen FIRs have been lodged against abusers so far.
The police found that it majority of the cases, the victims were girls.
“We have improvised upon Operation Nirbheek. Officials of Delhi police told us that many children who have suffered some form of sexual harassment were afraid to drop a letter fearing somebody will see them. The e-box facility that we have started gives children the anonymity they want. They can report from anywhere, privacy of their home, friend’s home or a cyber cafe without the fear of being outed,” said a WCD ministry official.