Child sex abuse not rare in city, says NGO | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Child sex abuse not rare in city, says NGO

Workshops conducted in two private schools in the city to spread awareness about child sexual abuse revealed that at least 5 per cent students had been victims of sexual abuse while 11 per cent had experienced “inappropriate behaviour or touches”.

mumbai Updated: Mar 31, 2010 01:09 IST
Afsha Khan

Workshops conducted in two private schools in the city to spread awareness about child sexual abuse revealed that at least 5 per cent students had been victims of sexual abuse while 11 per cent had experienced “inappropriate behaviour or touches”.

“It was very disturbing to find this was happening to some of my students,” said the principal of one of the schools requesting anonymity.

“When the children made these revelations, the first step we took was to inform the parents,” said Pooja Taparia, founder and CEO of Arpan, an NGO that works towards curbing child sexual abuse. “We had to ensure that immediate action was taken and the children were taken away from the perpetrators.”

In cases where the child seemed too disturbed or unable to cope with the problem, Arpan sought help from child counsellors.

The workshops were conducted last year as part of Arpan’s Personal Safety Education programme. The statistics, according to activists, reveal that cases such as that of the 12-year-old girl in Sakinaka who was allegedly raped by a cousin and neighbours for two years are not isolated.

Arpan found that in 46 per cent of the cases they have handled in their four years of existence, the offenders were immediate family or relatives. 53 per cent were known to the family, (friends, neighbours, watchmen,) while only 1 per cent were strangers.

Legal action was largely avoided. In one case, the father of a victim moved out of his joint-family residence as a family member was molesting his sons. In two cases, where the fathers were abusing the children, the mothers filed for divorce as their parents agreed to support them.

In another case, where a man was abusing his daughter, Tapariya said, he saw it as sexual gratification and not as a negative act. The child’s mother had approached Arpan. “The father is still in counselling and feels terrible now that he has realised the impact it has had on his daughter,” Tapariya added.

(The names of the two schools have been withheld to maintain anonymity)