India has become an online hosting hub for child sex material. If we look at horrific figures we will find for every 155th minute a child, less than 16 years, is raped, for every 13th hour a child under 10. It can be three months to ten years; there is no barrier for perverts to choose from. Above all, the Covid-19 lockdown, children and their families were forced to be in the house, schools were shut, no going to play out or meet friends, some unease and irritation levels at peak. The only resort was mobile phones and social networks.
Here is the trap; many children got lured in tempting offers and thrills without knowing the repercussions. According to Interpol, an estimated 2.4 million instances of online child sexual abuse were reported from India from 2017 to 2020. Eighty per cent of these children were girls under the age of 14. The US-based National Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) reported that more than 2.44 million children were abused in 2017 and by 2020 the cases will increase. When it comes to child sexual abuse material, they are getting much more proactive in India. There are many entities that upload these videos that have started moving their hosting to other countries, these syndicates are using children as a tool to their business of paedophilia, porn and pornography.
The problem of child sexual abuse is deep-rooted. Rape is the fourth most common crime against females in India. Childhood sexual abuse proves our country is full of paedophiles that want nothing but to exploit every child they see. People who take advantage of someone’s innocence are nothing but pure monsters, some of which lie in their own house/school/neighbour or in their surroundings, most of them are very well known to the victim. Several rape cases in India received widespread media attention and triggered protests. This led the Government of India to reform its penal code for crimes of rape and sexual assault. The number of juveniles or minors, legally those under 18 years of age, taking up crime has seen an alarming high over the past decade. This should be a particular reason to worry about for a country where 47.21 crore i.e. almost 39% of the population is under 18.
Most children who are abused sexually, never recover. Child abuse occurs in every single society, irrespective of linguistic and religious differences. Child abuse is often perpetrated by someone the child knows/ trusts and these days so-called online virtual friends. The internet has increased the predation of children by facilitating contact between paedophiles and children. But the internet also provides relief to hundreds of kids in danger since they can now expose those who abuse them and seek help. Children are the most vulnerable when they’re young and adults can be the most vicious creatures walking the earth.
There are predators lurking around hooking their victims. The victim is typically a young adult. One that’s ready to be “groomed.” But it can also be an older adult who has something a predator can snatch. The parents and authorities are in the dark about the dynamics of these extremely abusive occurrences, children are left in limbo having to endure and develop resilience to the traumatic impact these aggressive adults cause in their lives. Children are abused, they are not believed, they have no voice, we have to be their voice, expect to be humiliated by those who could care less, little to nothing will be done, and the law does not protect them.
In most of the houses both the parents running for earning, children are left unattended, the vacuum that directs children towards the virtual world. When they express themselves to some so-called unknown people, taking advantage of their loneliness their hormones are taken on the drive. All it begins with conversations and irreparable damage to young minds. Child sex abuse is a crime and many abusers have a sexual preference for children. They are simply using children as opportunistic targets.
These days due to an increased media focus on sexual exploitation of children and mandatory reporting laws post the introduction of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses (POCSO) Act; one may notice how child sexual abuse is on the rise. What we read is all about the reported cases, these are millions of unreported cases. However still there is no deterrence, the crime is on rising and there is no much control on such occurrences.
We might speak about it, there can be reports and news about abuses but all is in a flash time. The child suffers for a long time; many children who have been abused in any form develop some sort of psychological problem. These problems include anxiety, depression, eating disorders, OCD, codependency, or even a lack of human connections. It can result in immediate adverse physical effects but it is also strongly associated with developmental problems and with many chronic physical and psychological effects, including subsequent ill-health, including higher rates of chronic conditions, high-risk health behaviours and shortened lifespan. Maltreated children may grow up to be maltreating adults. Child abuse can cause a range of emotional effects. Children who are constantly ignored, shamed, terrorized or humiliated suffer at least as much, if not more than if they are physically assaulted. Abused children can grow up experiencing insecurities, low self-esteem, and lack of development. Many abused children experience ongoing difficulties with trust, social withdrawal, trouble in school, and forming relationships. Imagine, this general as growing adults, maybe this is the reason the young lives are very much at risk with depression, suicidal tendencies, and mental illness. Children are abused in many ways in India, beyond rapes. We always see kids begging on the roadside, working in shops and being abused. Sensitize the society that a girl or a woman has free will. Be it through social media, discussion forums, candlelight marches, whatever it takes, we need to sensitize our society against these crimes.