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‘Paedophilia is diagnosis, not crime,’ says expert from Berlin

Dr Kalus Beier, director of Institute of Sexology and Sexual Medicine, Charité, University clinic of Berlin, was in Pune to launch the NO mobile application for protection of women and children against potential sexual offences.

pune Updated: Feb 19, 2018 16:35 IST
Shalaka Shinde
Shalaka Shinde
Hindustan Times, Pune
Dr Kalus Beier,director of Institute of Sexology and Sexual Medicine,Charité
Dr Kalus Beier.(Ravindra Joshi/HT PHOTO)

Dr Kalus Beier, director of Institute of Sexology and Sexual Medicine, Charité, University clinic of Berlin, was in Pune to launch the NO mobile application for protection of women and children against potential sexual offences. The application is a part of Program for Primary Prevention of Sexual Violence (PPPSV), an initiative by King Edward Memorial Hospital Research Centre, Pune in collaboration with Dr Beier’s organisation. Excerpts of an interview with Dr Beier.

The study is from Berlin. Will this fluctuate in other parts of the world?

We do not know. This one percent is from the general population in the Berlin study. So we need to do a study in India to know more about the prevalence in India. You can be absolutely sure that paedophiliais not only a German problem. We will have this in other cultures.

Does the social economic set-up at some level affect their reaction to instinct?

I think the cultural surroundings and the impact is very strong in India and decisive for the way of coping with this inclination. So I would think the percentage is the same - one percent - but the way of dealing with these fantasies is different, because of the cultural surroundings. In my eyes it is easier to get in contact with children in India. So if you are inclined, the possibility to get in contact is much higher because its normal to be in contact with children.

What is the difference between paedophiliaand hebephilia?

Paedophiliadenotes an attraction towards pre-pubescent body scheme - those who have not entered puberty. And hebephilia, it's a new term, denotes and attraction for early pubescent body schemes. So these children have entered puberty, but it is the beginning. In girls, there is development of breasts but not fully. For boys it is the beginning of development of genitals.

Do they react differently?

Yes, the signalling system. What kind of signals will reach the system, right? If you are oriented towards women, as a man, you will react on these signals on a subliminal basis. You are not aware of it. This is what the advertisements are using. Why is a very beautiful looking girl sitting on a car? You are using these signals. Most men are oriented towards women. So they are reacting to women. If Just because a person is paedophilic or hebephilic does not mean you act out. You have to differentiate between the fantasy and behavioural level. Not every paedophilic-inclined person is an offender and not every offender is paedophilic-inclined.

When it comes to punishing people who have committed sexual crimes against children, do you think it's necessary to take their mental health into consideration?

Yes, but this is another field. It is an important field. I would strongly suggest improving the situation in India. We are then dealing with convicted or legally reported cases. As we know from every country as far as there are epidemiological data, most of the offences against children are not reported. So 90-95 per cent of cases are not reported. It comes to 20 per cent of your children according to your own ministry of family affairs. It's a huge group and a lot of cases will take place in the surroundings and will not be reported to the law enforcement agencies. The girls and boys who are affected might face long-term consequences. It enhances vulnerability.

Most of the studies you refer to, only refer to men. What about women who have these tendencies?

There are only a few women who are paedophilic-inclined. The Berlin project is running since 12 years. We have contact with over 2,000 of men but only 20 women. And these women, I have seen them personally. Only one of them was paedophilic-inclined in terms of fantasising about children and being aroused by the sight of children. All the others were afraid of being paedophilic-inclined. They are suffering from anxiety disorders. There are women who sexually abuse children but are not paedophilic-inclined. It's a kind of surrogate type of paedophilia.

First Published: Feb 19, 2018 16:34 IST