Some 50 per cent of India's children have been abused according to a year-long survey conducted by the child and welfare department, the Union department of women and child development (DWCD), the Delhi-based non-governmental organization (NGO) Prayas and funded by UNICEF published in March 2007.
India's largest survey on child abuse had 16,800 child (below 18) and 5,000 young adult respondents and covered 13 states, including Delhi, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Kerala, Bihar, Goa, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.
Main findings, four categories of abuse:
* 50 per cent Children who suffered abuse of one kind or other.
* 60 per cent Economically abused.
* 50 per cent Emotionally abused.
* 40 per cent Physically abused.
* 30 per cent Sexually abused by relatives or known persons.
* 25 per cent Sexually abused.
The survey defined four categories of abuse: emotional, sexual, physical and economic:
Emotional abuse, for example, a girl is constantly ill-treated for not being born a male, or any child pulled up for low performance at school.
Sexual abuse, for example, extends from fondling to rape.
Physical abuse, for example, is force used against a child by teachers, parents and others.
Economic abuse, for example, encompasses forced labour in both hazardous and non-hazardous places of work.
SILENT SUFFERING, SILENT SOCIETY?
New Delhi-based Outlook magazine said in its 26 February issue that "hidden from the media glare, millions of children [in India] suffer abuse in silence". The survey indicates that the extent of abuse of children saturates throughout many different aspects of Indian society, not just amongst orphanages, juvenile homes and street children.
Arun Pandey of the Goa-based NGO Anyway Rahit Zindagi says that child abuse has always been pervasive. He said: "The only reason why people are talking about it now is because society is beginning to see children as victims and is making an attempt to reach out to them." At least five per cent of the respondents said that they had resorted to substance abuse to cope with the sexual and/or physical trauma they were routinely subjected to.
Delhi: 25 per cent of children surveyed said that they had been abused sexually. Some 71 per cent said that they have been beaten, of which, more than 56 per cent said their beatings resulted in bleeding and 29 per cent needed medical attention. Nearly 80 per cent said they had been subjected to emotional abuse in Delhi.
AN IMPENDING ISSUE
The Outlook article says that the allocation for children in the national budget is very low, the Union budget for 2005-06 has been below 5 per cent of the total, of which, 0.034 per cent is allocated to child protection, some 3.76 rupees (less than 0.08 US dollars) per child.
Activist-advocate Ashok Aggarwal said that if current measures are not enough, instead it should be made mandatory to put every child rescued from forced labour or brothels into government-aided schools with hostels so that they can be integrated with the society. He was quoted in the Outlook article to have said: "I think it is high time the government began to really protect children instead of spending money on remand homes from where they usually escape to return to the very world from which they were rescued."
[No margin of error was given for this survey. Research: February 2007]
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