NONCE WARS INDIA

PUNE: Child sexual abuse cases in the city have shot up by an alarming 35% and places once meant for unbridled fun, are now increasingly unsafe. School vans and autorickshaws, a common choice of transport to and from school of many children, now figure among the places where child sexual abuse cases are often reported from. The sexual assault case of a six-year-old by the school van’s driver last Friday is a case in point.

The latest statistics of the Pune police have revealed that the city witnessed 172 cases of child sexual abuse between January and October this year, showing a steep rise of 35% when compared to the 126 cases recorded in the same period last year.

In most cases, the children were in the 8-14 age group, but rather unsettlingly children as young as three were subjected to sexual assault by people known to them, including relatives and tutors among others.

“The steep rise can also be attributed to the fact that more and more people are now aware of laws, like Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, and are forthcoming to report such crimes,” said Sanjay Nikam, senior police officer and in-charge of juvenile aid preventive unit and social security cell, Pune. He further said: “Children have often faced abuse in bus, autorickshaw or in the known surroundings when they are alone. And, it is not only girls who are subjected to all this, cases of young boys being sexually assaulted are also surfacing, though the number is comparatively small.”

years old have also faced sexual abuse. What is more disturbing is that in most cases, the child has been sexually assaulted by a person, known to the child, a relative or a tutor.

Though most cases of abuse registered this year took place at home, Nikam said, there have been instances of abuse in school. “And most of these kids belonged to the lower middle class or poor households,” he said.

Nikam also said that not only girls but boys have also been subject to sexual abuse although the number is small.

Anuradha Sahasrabudhe, executive director of Dnyan Devi Childline – a Union government supported 24-hour helpline for children in distress – said in the case of toddlers, it is often a close family member who is the perpetrator. “They often lure the child on the pretext of a ‘game’ or chocolate. It is essential for parents to teach the children to be careful, while staying vigilant themselves. Only teaching the child about good touch and bad touch is not enough, parents should also open channel of communication while keeping an eye on them and looking for any signs of sudden behavioural changes,” she said.

“There is no age appropriateness to teaching a child to be careful in social situations. Gender values and respecting the girl child should be taught to older children. While for teenagers, it is essential that they be taught about boundaries in friendship and love and that they are educated about responsible sex life,” she added.

“The issue of child safety and security is getting more complex with every passing day. In our society, we don’t give our children independence. When small, parents decide almost everything for them and sometimes, sadly, when they complain, they are not taken seriously. What we need to do is empower them and assure that they are heard to instill confidence in them,” said Ashok Pingale, programme director, Gyan Prakash Foundation, which also works for children.

Rise in child (sexual) abuse cases in Pune-

Total number of child abuse cases have increased by 35.5% from last year

2014 (Till October) 2013

Total number of

Child sexual abuse cases 172 126

Total arrests made 219 181

Number of boys 8 8

Number of girls 173 119

Juvenile suspects 15 13

Detail stats for child sexual abuse cases in 2014 –

Number of Cases Arrests made Girls Boys

Month

January 14 14 14 0

February 18 22 22 0

March 26 30 25 1

April 25 35 24 1

May 13 19 12 1

June 22 28 22 0

July 10 20 15 0

August 14 18 13 1

September 19 19 16 3

October 11 14 10 1

2014 figures till October month

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