Each of us has read about the horrific crime which has been reported from Kashmir, by several publications, documenting how Peer Aijaz Sheikh had sexually abused the minor boys. The details of the sexual abuse shook India and also exposed the vulnerability that young boys face in the nation.
In another case, a 13-year-old boy from Mumbai, who was sexually assaulted by a group of men, died of multiple organ failures after he consumed rat poison. There are several cases like this but do not make the mistake of thinking that the sexual abuse of minor boys is something which can be called ‘a recent development.’
This has been going on for long.
Consider these statistics to understand the seriousness of the situation:
Save the Children and Tulir-Centre for the Prevention and Healing Child Sexual Abuse conducted a study in 2005 among 2,211 school going children in Chennai. About 48% and 39% of the boys and girls, respectively, reported that they were abused.
Then, a study was conducted in 2007 by Ministry of Women and Child Development in India, covering 13 states and among the participants who reported being abused, 57.3% were boys and 42.7% were girls.
The Mumbai Police Twitter handle got it completely right when it tweeted on 31st July that “sexual abuse is not gender specific, then why not talk to all kids about this?”
— Mumbai Police (@MumbaiPolice) August 1, 2017
The tweet had a picture of a young boy and it read that out of all reported cases of child sexual abuse, more than half are males.
But since the Indian laws are not gender neutral therefore the sexual assault often imply the violation of the rights of a female child only.
Families also add to the problem as they rarely come forward to report sexual abuse against the male child. The fear of losing prestige in the society as abuse is considered a ‘woman’s problem only’ is a major roadblock and families also fear societal boycott. In many cases, the perpetrator is a family member and uses his/her influence to silence the boy and his family while in many cases a child is often unable to speak up as he does not really understand nor is he able to articulate well the situation he is in.
To challenge this, creating a confident environment where a child can speak up is crucial. Teachers and parents should take the onus of explaining the difference between a good touch and bad touch. Films, TV shows, and radio can be used to educate the adults and children on the prevalence of sexual abuse.
There is no easy way to uproot child sexual abuse from our society, however, if we are able to instill confidence in the child, and not make a case about the gender, then we can certainly turn the tables on the perpetrators.