A Multi Stakeholder Dialogue on Child Sexual Abuse

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A Multi Stakeholder Dialogue on Child Sexual Abuse

Date: 02 Aug 2018
Speakers
Smt. Stuti Narain Kacker, Chairperson, NCPCR
Smt. Geeta Narayan, Member Secretary, NCPCR
Ms. Geetanjali Goel, Special Secretary (Admn) Delhi State Legal Services Authority
Dr. Rajesh Sagar, Professor, Department of Psychiatry, AIIMS

Report

Report on Discussion:

Subject:    Child Sexual Abuse

Date:         2nd August, 2018

Venue:      BPST Main Lecture Hall, Parliament Library Building, New Delhi

Resource Persons:  Smt. Stuti Narain Kacker, Chairperson, NCPCR, New Delhi

Smt. Geeta Narayan, Member Secretary, NCPCR, New Delhi

Ms. Geetanjali Goel, Special Secretary (Admin), Delhi State Legal Services Authority, New Delhi.

 

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A multi-stakeholder dialogue on the issue of Child Sexual Abuse was held under the aegis of Speaker’s Research Initiative on 02 August, 2018. Before beginning the workshop, Shri Rahul Dev, Honorary Advisor, SRI emphasized upon the importance of the subject in the daily lives of common people which might have affected everyone. He added that the workshop was unique as it was a stakeholder dialogue and not merely a seminar of academic nature. The workshop began with a 22 minute documentary film, made by an NGO from Chennai with actual survivors describing their trauma and the accounts of the doctors and NGO workers who treated them.

The documentary was followed by the introduction of the team from National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) by Honorary Advisor, SRI. Other than Smt. Stuti Narain Kacker, Chairperson, NCPCR, Smt. Geeta Narayan, Member Secretary, NCPCR and Ms. Geetanjali Goel, Special Secretary (Admin), Delhi State Legal Services Authority, there were 13 experts who dealt with different dimensions of child sexual abuse such as criminal dimension, a relationship dimension and other psychological, social and legal dimensions. Smt. Geeta Narayan, Member Secretary, NCPCR made a slide presentation.

Smt. Geeta Narayan initiated the dialogue with presentation of ten different case studies which pertained to sexual abuse of minors. These case studies were taken up from the news and complaints received by NCPCR. Actions had been taken in most of the cases and it included arresting offenders, filing FIR and legal action too.

It was pointed out that the common threads in all the cited cases was that the accused were often acquaintances or within the family and there was no age bar amongst the victims, ranging from infants to almost adult girls and boys. There were often cases where the family/victims feared due to possible disbelief/non-acceptance/beating/labeling. She also pointed out the common misconception was that the child would eventually forget such abuses.

During interaction, queries were raised as to how to stop the sexual abuse of children of all ages. Questions were also asked about the children who were the victims of begging groups and of child labour etc. Issue of NCPCR not working to its potential was also raised. Members of Parliament also inquired about the initiatives taken for creating awareness.

The opinions expressed by the MPs were taken into consideration and their questions were answered by Smt. Stuti Kacker.  As regards to the children who were victims of begging groups, she said that there was a study going on and a Standard Operating Procedure (SoP) was made for the same purpose. She also informed that their website had received responses from the general public as to how to curb the sexual assaults and everyone was of the opinion that there should be more awareness. Talks were on with the nodal Ministry as regards to the budget of the Commission and she stressed that it needed to be raised. Despite the constrained budget, they had taken up several campaigns to create awareness. Advertisements regarding these were also being put up on trains and She informed that she was in talks with the Chairman of the Railway Board for provision of protection on trains. She informed that there were advertisements on the metro, airports and on radio, but she rued that they had a constrained budget.

There was a suggestion given to her by an MP to request different Ministries for monetary help.

Smt. Stuti Kacker responded that she had made a request to all the Ministries in this regard.

Shri Rahul Dev also opined that considering the gravity of the issue, the budget of 15 crores per annum was a very small amount.

A Member of Parliament stressed upon the need for greater connectivity and synchronization between different departments. He noted that there was much left to be desired as far as the work on the field was concerned and proposed that an integrated model could be adopted. He feared that many cases of child abuses might not have even come to light. He opined that there should be more thoughts and research put into solving such issues at the root. He further added that the religious institutions like mosques and temples could be added into the program.

At this stage, an expert apprised that they have had inter convergence review meetings with 16 States including all States of North East. He told that the bottles of water on railways, namely ‘Rail Neer’ would soon carry phone numbers of help lines.

On this point, a Member of Parliament observed that help line numbers on the ‘Rail Neer’ water bottles would not be very visible as people often ignored even the ISI mark present on them. He suggested that more visible advertisements should be taken up.

A member of the NCPCR team apprised that soon the NCERT books would be carrying chapters on the issue.

A Member of Parliament suggested that a combined and concentrated effort by people from all walks of life could solve the problem. He said that there should be a study regarding the psychology of those who committed such crimes and what were their triggers.

Shri Rahul Dev said that child sexual abuse was a grave issue and that the entire Parliament had to be integrated into the process. He emphasized that there should be exclusive discussions on the issue.

Proposing for an exclusive discussion in the Parliament, a Member recalled that there was a Bill brought in by Smt. Maneka Gandhi on the issue in the recent past.

 Dr. Rajesh Sagar, Professor, Department of Psychiatry, AIIMS who was a part of NCPCR team stated that prevention was the best cure. He said that the issue of awareness was extremely important which entailed not only public awareness, but the awareness of the police and the doctors too. They should be made aware of the changes that had come about in the recent years, be in the treatment methods or in the way police dealt with these matters. He noted that there was a need to empower children within families and the families themselves had to be empowered. Stating that there were particular treatment therapies, trauma therapy and cognitive behavior therapy, he elaborated on various medicines for treatment of trauma. Physical manifestations of the abuse could be Enuresis, Encopresis, Anal/Vaginal itching, Anorexia, Headache, Mutism, Amnesia, Vague body pain, Pseudo seizures/loss of consciousness.

He explained that the inhibitions and dis-inhibitions of child sexual abuse victims resulted as dullness, hypo-kinesis, listlessness, unselective social relatedness, reactive attachment, lack of guilt, inability to obey rules and no emotional bond with parents.

Psychological illnesses manifested in the victims as Acute Stress Disorder, Somatisation, Dissociation, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorders, Adjustment Disorders, Delusional Disorders, Phobia, Trans and possession disorders, Psychosis, Eating disorders etc.

Talking about the behavioural and psychological consequences that manifested themselves in the survivors, he said that trauma caused could also lead to delinquent behavior in the survivor which could initiate a chain. The social consequences were inability of the victims to continue education, their trauma causing them to have poor interpersonal and other peer relationships, rejection by peer group and the increased tendencies for criminal behavior. There were other educational and emotional consequences which included loss of interest in studies, language & other academic difficulties, memory & poor recall of issues and difficulty in concentration along with feelings of guilt & shame, poor self image and withdrawal symptoms etc.

He concluded by saying that every child coped up with the trauma in their own way, depending upon his/her resilience, health & emotional checkups as well as psychological and psychiatric assessment. He stressed upon the need to train more counsellors and more awareness programs in addition to the need for an inclusive curriculum.

The workshop concluded with Shri Rahul Dev thanking all the Members of Parliament and the experts.