Sunday, 20 March 2016

family wrecked

Incest - The cause of family wreckage

In the past year we have made interventions in the lives of many Children at risk. Even as we try to contain the numbers through awareness and stringent actions, child sexual abuses (CSA) are on the rise. It is a deplorable fact that more than 70% of the CSA cases reported in Kerala are incest Cases. Either the parents or relatives are found to be guilty in the crimes.
The law still lacks an effective mechanism to protect a child’s identity in incest cases as often the reporting in media often indirectly reveals the identity of the child.  As many as 1,375 sexual abuse cases were registered in 2014 under the Protection of children from sexual offences Act (POCSO) 2012, whereas it was 1,124 in 2013, says Susheela Mathew, senior consultant, POCSO, Child Rights Commission.

Kollam tops the list with 165 cases followed by Thiruvananathapuram with 135, Ernakulum and Thrissur with 125 and 123 cases respectively, cites Child Rights Commission. Data availed from the Kerala Police’s website, draws a grim picture with crimes against children increasing from 1,877 in 2013 to 2,286 in 2014. The number of rape cases has also surged from 637 in 2013 to 709 in 2014.
A case study selected by us for the year of 2015 is also indicating towards this malicious trend of incest. We received information from the PRO of a leading hospital in Thiruvananathapuram, regarding pregnancy of Anjana, a  17 year old child (given name). The girl and family had come to SAT Hospital for delivery. CHILDLINE staff went to the hospital and counseled the child.  From the conversation with the girl’s family it was revealed that the abuser was her uncle (aunt’s husband).  Her father had deserted the family and her mother is currently working abroad to look after the family.  So the girl was forced to stay with her aunty. Meanwhile the accused forced her into sexual exploitation and threatened her not to disclose the matter to anyone. So her relatives brought her to Medical College to arrange her delivery with utmost secrecy and without the knowledge of her neighbors. We provided counseling and convinced them to file case and produced the child before CWC.  She was provided place to stay and facilities were arranged for delivery.  CHILDLINE informed the case at the local police station and FIR was filed. Child’s statement was recorded and later submitted before the Magistrate. And eventually abuser was arrested

The Hidden Perspective
The Don Bosco Veedu society wish to address the hidden perspective; the lack of interest shown on the victim’s part (especially that of the affected family) to file a case with the respective authorities. This problem can be interpreted in various ways. Sexual exploitation is a very broad term when it comes before the society. The common man feels that abuse on a child can only be taken in its seriousness when it has an element – rape. Social stigma associated with sexual exploitation within the family still looms large in society.

To an extent media is to be blamed for this. If there is no sensational issue there is no news.  So the issue is often sensationalized without any sensitivity to the victim. When they manage to make the general public believe that all we want is to report the facts, the inside story is something very different. The cases telecasted on TV or printed on such editions reveal names of the perpetrators. This can in turn be point to the victim. She/he is shamefaced in front of the public.

Another aspect is strictly economical. Majority of the CSA cases are found to have taken place within families below poverty line, colonies or other nomadic settlements. Since they belong to very poor financial background, the issues are usually settled among themselves.

With the implementation of POCSO Act, things have changed for the better but what about the brazen intrusion into the private space called ‘home’? When a man abusing his daughter is reported, the summons is received by the father as he is the guardian. The hapless mother who will have to care for her other children will not back the child as she is dependent on the father, says P E Usha, Director, Mahila Samakhya Society and a child rights activist.    

In August 2015, Anjana (given name) gave birth to a boy child and mother gave a request letter to CHILDLINE pleading that she wants to surrender the child. With the help of CWC, we transferred the infant to a fit facility. The girl is currently staying at a shelter home and the baby has been given in adoption. Anjana is attending vocational training classes and wishes to forget her past and dreams of being a pilot. Anjana is safe now, but how many more are out there in need of help??