Child Sexual Abuse

If you don't stop it, who will?

  • What is CSA?
  • Impact & Report of CSA
  • Law in India POSCO
  • CSA in Indian Context
  • Services
  • Resources

Sahyog considers child protection as the prevention of or responding to the incidence of abuse, exploitation, violence and neglect of children. This includes commercial sexual exploitation, trafficking, child labour and harmful traditional practices, such as female genital mutilation/cutting and child marriage. Protection also allows children to have access to their other rights of survival, development, growth and participation. Sahyog maintains that when child protection fails or is absent children have a risk of death, poor physical and mental health, educational problems, displacement, homelessness and poor parenting. Sahyog also did training's to train the teachers and parents on protection of children from any kind of violence.

Child sexual abuse or child molestation is a form of child abuse in which an adult or older adolescent uses a child for sexual stimulation. Forms of child sexual abuse include engaging in sexual activities with a child (whether by asking or pressuring, or by other means), indecent exposure (of the genitals, female nipples, etc.), child grooming, or using a child to produce child pornography.
There are 2 different types of child sexual abuse. These are called contact abuse and non-contact abuse.

Contact abuse involves touching activities where an abuser makes physical contact with a child, including penetration. It includes:

    Sexual touching of any part of the body whether the child's wearing clothes or not

    Rape or penetration by putting an object or body part inside a child's mouth, vagina or anus

    Forcing or encouraging a child to take part in sexual activity

    Making a child take their clothes off, touch someone else's genitals or masturbate.

Non-contact abuse involves non-touching activities, such as grooming, exploitation, persuading children to perform sexual acts over the internet and flashing. It includes:

    Encouraging a child to watch or hear sexual acts

    Not taking proper measures to prevent a child being exposed to sexual activities by others

    Meeting a child following sexual grooming with the intent of abusing them

    Online abuse including making, viewing or distributing child abuse images

    Allowing someone else to make, view or distribute child abuse images

    Showing pornography to a child

    Sexually exploiting a child for money, power or status (child exploitation).

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Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) victims experience short and long term negative outcomes that affect their daily functioning. They can also experience trauma. Trauma is any negative event which has long lasting effect on how one thinks, feels about oneself and how one behaves.

Immediate impact of child sexual abuse involves a range of emotions: shock, fear, sadness, anger, confusion, guilt and shame among others. They may experience sudden mood shifts or feel emotionally numb. Other short-term effects involve resorting to regressive behaviours such as a return to thumb-sucking or bed-wetting and engage in aggressive acting out, daydreaming or become suicidal. One of the indicators of sexual abuse is sexual acting out and inappropriate sexual knowledge and interest. Victims may withdraw from school and social activities, show a change in achievement patterns, problems with concentration and exhibit various learning and behavioural problems.

Symptoms can extend far into adulthood and largely impact domains of relationships and sexuality. An adult survivor might find it difficult to form and sustain trusting relationships and may experience repeated or additional victimization in relationships along with confusion around sexual identity. A few adult survivors of child sexual abuse may become offenders themselves. Other long- term effects include depression, anxiety, eating disorders poor self-esteem, somatization, sleep disturbances. When symptoms are not properly treated, the impact can result in a lifetime of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression and anxiety.

David Finkelhor is director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center and professor of sociology at the University of New Hampshire. He has been conducting research on victims of child sexual abuse since 1976. Finkelhor, whose conceptualization of the traumagenic effects of sexual abuse is the most widely employed, divides impact into four general categories, each having varied psychological and behavioral effects.

Traumatic sexualization – Included in the psychological outcomes of traumatic sexualization are aversive feelings about sex, overvaluing sex, and sexual identity problems.

    Stigmatization – Common psychological manifestations of stigmatization are feelings of guilt and responsibility for the abuse or the consequences of disclosure. These feelings are likely to be reflected in behaviors such as substance abuse, risk-taking acts, self-mutilation, suicidal gestures and acts.

    Betrayal – The most fundamental damage from sexual abuse is its undermining of trust in those people who are supposed to be protectors and nurturers and so victims experience extreme betrayal.

    Powerlessness – The psychological impact of the trauma of powerlessness includes both aperception of vulnerability and victimization. It can manifest as avoidant responses, such as dissociation and running away, sleep problems, elimination problems, and eating problems; andre-victimization.

CSA Annual Report 2015-16 CSA Annual Report 2016-17

The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act) 2012 was formulated in order to effectively address sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children. The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 received the President’s assent on 19th June 2012 and was notified in the Gazette of India on 20th June, 2012.

The Act defines a child as any person below eighteen years of age. It defines different forms of sexual abuse, including penetrative and non-penetrative assault, as well as sexual harassment and pornography. It deems a sexual assault to be “aggravated” under certain circumstances, such as when the abused child is mentally ill or when the abuse is committed by a person in a position of trust or authority like a family member, police officer, teacher, or doctor. The Act also casts the police in the role of child protectors during the investigative process. Thus, the police personnel receiving a report of sexual abuse of a child are given the responsibility of making urgent arrangements for the care and protection of the child, such as obtaining emergency medical treatment for the child and placing the child in a shelter home, and bringing the matter in front of the CWC, should the need arise.

The Act further makes provisions for avoiding the re-victimisation of the child at the hands of the judicial system. It provides for special courts that conduct the trial in-camera and without revealing the identity of the child, in a manner that is as child-friendly as possible. Hence, the child may have a parent or other trusted person present at the time of testifying and can call for assistance from an interpreter, special educator, or other professional while giving evidence. Above all, the Act stipulates that a case of child sexual abuse must be disposed of within one year from the date the offence is reported.

The Act also provides for mandatory reporting of sexual offences. This casts a legal duty upon a person who has knowledge that a child has been sexually abused to report the offence; if he fails to do so, he may be punished with six months’ imprisonment and/ or a fine.

The space of Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) is flooded with assumptions and contradictions and we address the issue in this very milieu and not in a vacuum space. Some of those assumptions which shape and influence the discourse of Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) in the Indian context are: children must have asked for Sexual abuse in some way; that it is not possible for very young children to be assaulted; Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) cannot happen in my family; that boys are not abused; that Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) occurs only among the poor; that family members cannot sexually abuse children of their families; women cannot sexually abuse; people who sexually abuse are mentally ill; child sexual abuse is part of growing up and have no adverse impact.

Despite instances of Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) in reality contradicting these assumptions head on, these myths still perpetuate because of two primary reasons. Most of these assumptions are rooted in the overarching framework of patriarchy and gender bias, which propagate double standards around sexuality and gender roles and make up the foundation to reinforce child sexual abuse. Hence on the one-hand we have institutions around child marriage and inter and intra generational marriages in the family, media which objectifies and treats children and women as sexual objects; on the other hand we have evolved family as the most sanctified space, family honour as the highest virtue to be safeguarded (which is directed through women’s sexuality in general and virginity in particular), unquestioned authority and respect to adults and forgiveness as key values to thrive on. These overt and covert normative frameworks along with lack of dialogue often provide confusing messages around sexuality, personal boundaries and relationship and reinforce sexuality as a tabooed subject and silence any disruption, which might affect family pride and honour. Secondly the gender roles that men and women are expected to perform and the subsequent socialization that they undergo also provides contradictory messages to children on sexuality and gender. While boys are expected to be ‘macho’, protector of women/children or abusers; women are expected to be passive, care-givers and victims. These stereotypical constructs teach boys that they need to be sexually experienced at marriage, it is okay to be aggressive and lack impulse control, boys can’t cry and seek support, boys cannot be violated, boys need to have unquestioned authority, etc. In a similar but contrary fashion, girls are taught to be meek, passive, accept male dominance, perform mothering role and be asexual and remain sexually inactive till marriage.

These bring in ramifications for the Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) discourse as these messages are internalized by each one of us in how we respond to Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) as survivors, family members of survivors, as offenders, as professionals and practitioners. Hence for survivors it is a long journey for being able to leave behind the stigma and taking responsibility of it, for families to accept and support it, for offenders to own up to the act and the affect it brings and as practitioners to understand the complex matrix from which CSA operates.

In the 1990s, some of the significant small-scale qualitative studies, which were carried out in various parts of India, revealed the extent and contours of CSA. Some of these studies were undertaken by the NGOs: Samvada, Bangalore; Sakshi, Delhi; RAHI, Delhi; and by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.

In 1993-94, the Bangalore-based NGO Samvada undertook one of the first specific studies on CSA through a series of workshops for 348 girls aged between 15 and 21 years, who were from 11 schools and colleges in Karnataka. The study reported that 47 per cent of the girls had been molested or had experienced sexual overtures, and 15 per cent had been subjected to serious sexual abuse, including rape. One out of three children was under 10 years old when the abuse started. (www.boloji.com; Enfold www.enfoldindia.org)

In 1997, the Sakshi Violation Intervention Centre, a Delhi-based group, undertook a study of 350 schoolgirls. Of these 63 per cent had been sexually abused by someone in the family; 25 per cent had been raped, made to masturbate the perpetrator or perform oral sex. Over 30 per cent of the girls had been sexually abused by their fathers, grandfathers or male friends of the family.

In 1998, the Delhi-based NGO Recovering and Healing from Incest (RAHI) carried out a study in selected States on ‘Women’s Experience of Incest and Childhood Sexual Abuse’. The study had found that 76 per cent of middle and upper class women in Chennai, Mumbai, Kolkata and Goa had been sexually abused as children, and 71 per cent of them had been abused by relatives or someone they knew and trusted. The study revealed that some women only realized that they had been abused when they were responding to the questionnaire (RAHI 1998 cited by WCD 2007b).

In 1999, the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, interviewed 150 girls and found that 58 of them, more than one in three had been raped before the age of 10 (Krishnakumar 2003).

A couple of other studies also threw light on Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) and its prevalence and incidence.

One such study has been in 2006 by the Chennai-based NGO Tulir – Centre for Prevention and Healing of Child Sexual Abuse, with the support of the international organisation Save the Children undertook a study of CSA in Chennai. It included 2211 class XI students, girls and boys, who had different socio-economic backgrounds and attended mainstream schools. The results of the study show that out of a total of 2211 child participants, 939 had faced at least one form of sexual abuse at some point in time. The study results show that 39 per cent of the girls faced sexual abuse, compared to 48 per cent of the boys; taken together this is 42 per cent of the children.

Another significant study at the pan Indian level has been the National Study on Child Abuse (2007). This study, which is the largest of its kind, covered 13 states with a sample size of 12447 children, 2324 young adults and 2449 stakeholders. The National Study reported the following:

    53.18 % children in the family environment not going to school reported facing sexual abuse

    49.92% children in schools reported facing sexual abuse

    61.61% children at work (Shop, factory or other places) reported facing sexual abuse

    54.51% children on the streets reported facing sexual abuse

    47.08 % children in institutional care reported facing sexual abuse

    20.90% of all children were subjected to severe forms of sexual abuse that included sexual assault, making the child fondle private parts, making the child exhibit private body parts and being photographed in the nude 50% abusers are persons known to the child or in a position of trust and responsibility

From these studies, it’s that Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) does occur and it does not occur as a sporadic incident but it is a reality that touches at least 40%-50% of children’s life in India. Inspite of such grim statistics, currently there are only four organizations in India working on the issue in a focused manner. Hence the need is great to make people aware about this malaise in society and bring the issue out in the open and talk about it.

For Parents

Awareness Sessions

Awareness sessions are conducted for parents with an aim to create greater sensitivity and awareness about the issue of Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) to enable them to protect children from potential abuse. Topics covered in the awareness sessions include, Conceptual clarity on Child Sexual Abuse (CSA), Impact of CSA, Understanding grooming and the offender, Handling disclosure, Importance of Counseling and Parenting Tips on Keeping Children Safe. These sessions last from an hour to two hours.


Counselling

Sahyog Care provides counselling services for parents whose child has gone through the abuse. It is very important for the parents to come for couselling as well as this helps them understand the process of counseling, the current state of the child and how they can play a role in helping the child overcome the situation. No personal details are ever shared within the organization or outside.

You can call us on for counseling support +91-9873216474

For Students

Awareness Sessions for college students

Awareness sessions are conducted for college students with an aim to create greater sensitivity and awareness about the issue of Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) to enable them to protect children as future parents. Also importantly encourage them to come into a process of recovery and healing if they’ve experienced CSA. Topics covered in the awareness sessions include, conceptual clarity on CSA, Impact of CSA, Understanding grooming and the offender, Handling disclosure, Importance of Counseling. These sessions last from an hour to three hours.


Counselling

Counseling can make the child/adolescent understand that it was not their fault for what has happened to them. Very often the child feels guilty; there are social withdrawals, sudden changes in the behaviour of the child. With counseling the child starts feeling safe and secure and helps develop their self-esteem. Adolescents are also able to heal and come into a process of recovery so that the rest of their lives is not very affected by their past experiences of abuse.

You can call us on for counseling support +91-9873216474

For Teachers

Awareness Sessions

Awareness sessions are conducted for teachers with an aim to create greater sensitivity and awareness about the issue of Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) to enable them to protect children from potential abuse. Topics covered in the awareness sessions include, conceptual clarity on CSA, Impact of CSA, Understanding grooming and the offender, Handling disclosure, Importance of Counseling and General Guidelines on Keeping Children Safe. These sessions last from an hour to three hours.


Training for Teachers

Sahyog Care conducts 3-5 days training for teachers to undertake the Personal Safety Education Programme implementation at their school or organizational level. Skills are also developed to effectively handle children’s disclosure of Child Sexual Abuse (CSA). Topics include Conceptual clarity on CSA, Impact of CSA, Understanding grooming and the offender, Teaching children Personal Safety Skills through lesson plans, Handling disclosure and Importance of Counseling. Training Manuals are provided to each teacher to enable them to easily implement the Personal Safety Education Program.

You can call us on for counseling support +91-9873216474

For Schools

Teachers Training Program

Sahyog Care conducts 3-5 days training for teachers to undertake the Personal Safety Education Programme implementation at their school or organizational level. Skills are also developed to effectively handle children’s disclosure of Child Sexual Abuse (CSA). Topics include Conceptual clarity on CSA, Impact of CSA, Understanding grooming and the offender, Teaching children Personal Safety Skills through lesson plans, Handling disclosure and Importance of Counseling. Training Manuals are provided to each teacher to enable them to easily implement the Personal Safety Education Program.


Awareness Sessions

Awareness sessions are conducted for parents and teachers with an aim to create greater sensitivity and awareness about the issue of Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) to enable them to protect children from potential abuse. Topics covered in the awareness sessions include, conceptual clarity on CSA, Impact of CSA, Understanding grooming and the offender, Handling disclosure, Importance of Counseling and Parenting Tips and General Guidelines on Keeping Children Safe. These sessions last from an hour to three hours.

You can call us on for counseling support +91-9873216474