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Thu, 16 May 2013 15:30:00 GMT | By Padmini Sivarajah

A curse on childhood

The impact of the rising cases of child abuse goes beyond the trauma of the victims; it is robbing little girls of some of the simplest childhood joys


A curse on childhood (© Reuters)

The impact of the rising cases of child abuse goes beyond the trauma of the victims; it is robbing little girls of some of the simplest childhood joys

Crimes against the girl child are increasing at an alarming rate in Tamil Nadu, according to Evidence, an NGO dealing with human rights issues in Madurai, with over 1000 cases of child abuse being registered throughout the state, in the last two years.

What are we to make of this situation? That an increasing number of men have begun to look at even children as sex objects, because they are girls? Some of the children being subjected to abuse of various types, including rape, are as young as three years old. How can a child that is such an embodiment of innocence be viewed as an object of sex by any man?

The study by the NGO says that the ten-month period from January to October in 2011 saw 523 cases of child abuse being registered in Tamil Nadu, the number increasing to 584 during the same period in 2012. Also, 69.5 per cent of the sexual abuse cases registered in the state in the year 2011 had been against children. And remember, these are only the cases that are reported.

Men have always been capable of committing heinous crimes against women, even children. What is troubling now is that such incidents are no longer mere aberrations. Are Indian men, even boys, becoming warped and twisted in some unspeakable way?

For many parents, leaving a girl child in the care of relatives is no longer an option today, in a situation where no man seems trustworthy, according the NGO’s report. In one case, the perpetrator was a relative, in another a friend and in yet another, a neighbor. The latest case is of a milk vendor in Tuticorin raping a 13-year-old girl during his daily visits to the house.

 Last week, a seven-year-old boy was accused of raping his six-year-old sister. Was it something the boy saw on television or on the Net that prompted him to act that way? And can it be termed rape? Whatever the case may be, it just makes it increasingly difficult for parents to allow even young children to play together without supervision. And there goes another childhood pleasure.

When I was a child in the late 1970s, my playgroup included at least ten children and we were a mix of boys and girls. Games were played outdoors, away from adult supervision, and staying at home seemed a crime. Now, children are forced to stay indoors and if they have a lone playmate it is a luxury. It is an indicator of how we live and the way we are. Child rights have been denied in many ways in today’s society and cases like the above mentioned only worsen the situation, causing children to live in an atmosphere tinged with fear. And if that is not to put a curse on our children, I don’t know what else is…

Padmini Sivarajah is a journalist, covering issues pertaining to women and children across South India.

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