"India's Hell Holes" - Child Sexual Abuse in Protection Homes

' 48,338 child rape cases from 2001 to 2011 with 336% increase of child rape cases from 2001 to 2011.'

  • Asian Center For Human Rights, submits report - "India 's Hell Holes"- Child Sexual Assault in Juvenile Justice Homes, to the UN Special Rapporteur On Violence Against Women.

The recent case of a five year old girl,raped and brutalized in an unspeakable manner,puts the spotlight on an issue, which needs our urgent attention - that of child sexual abuse.It was in May 2012, that parliament enacted India's first law that specifically outlawed child sexual abuse. Children of India, have been target of rape, sodomy, abuse and torture for long, but according to the ACHR report, these crimes are especially rampant in the juvenile justice homes, majority of them run and aided by the government itself.

According to this report, between 2005 and 2011, in Karnataka alone,1089 children below 14 are missing from 34 children's homes. The story is even more horrific in other states of West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh. From each state,several of the young children have run away from the homes where they were supposed to be protected, never to be traced again. What kind of torture led them away? Where are these children? The answer to these questions remain unresolved.

According to Mr. Suhas Chakma, Director of Asian Center for Human Rights," Juvenile justice homes, established to provide care and protection as well as re-integration,rehabilitation and restoration of the juveniles in conflict with law and children in need of care and protection, have become India's hell holes,where inmates are subjected to sexual assault and exploitation, torture and ill treatment apart from being forced to live in inhuman conditions. The girls remain the most vulnerable." The report specifically highlights the failure of the state machinery and ineffectiveness of the law, which has failed to curb the crime and bring the perpetrators to justice. What is even more appalling is the fact that most of these figures, do not present us the complete picture, as the stigma of rape, forces many, to let the crimes against children go unreported and untold.

So if the children are not safe in these "protected homes", where do they turn to? What is the solution ?

Before looking into the answers, we need to highlight some of the problems that led our children to this. Under the law, all shelter homes (aided/unaided) need to be registered. Yet several of these institutions function without any formal registration and the law is rendered ineffective for their cases. Rule 40 of the Juvenile Justice ( Care and Protection of Children) clearly highlights separate facilities for boys and girls, but these "homes" fail to adhere to these provisions. As a result, children, especially young girls, suffer at the hands of the men who run these places, functioning under the garb of education and safe environment.

Such distressing facts immediately forces us to look for solutions. The need to protect our children and their childhood becomes all the more important in a society where such crimes are on the rise.Stringent laws alone would not help in alleviating the situation. We, as a society, need to re assess our roles as conscious citizens and vow to not keep calm about it.

Holding the government responsible to make sure the "homes" adhere to the norms is one step in the right direction. We also need to make sure that the abused child receives proper rehabilitation,pertaining to his/her psychological and medical needs. Society, needs to be woken up to this urgent horror of child sexual abuse, before any more child is victimized or abused.

We cannot allow the caretakers to turn predators.This war against child sexual abuse, need to be fought with our full might. We have to allow our children to thrive, and be safe. A safe child is a happy child and the sooner we recognize this, the better.

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