Act now to stop sex abuse of children: Rights group to govt

The Indian government must act to protect children from widespread sexual abuse as part of broader law reform following the Delhi gangrape in December 2012, stated a report released on Thursday by Human Rights Watch.

The report, 'Breaking the Silence: Child Sexual Abuse in India', examines the failure of current government regulation mechanisms, including further mistreatment of child sexual abuse victims by traumatic medical examinations, and the need for "urgent reform" of the criminal justice system and process of police investigation. Many victims do not report their abuse due to perceived social stigma and a lack of faith in government institutions, the report said.

"India's system to combat child sexual abuse is inadequate because government mechanisms fail to ensure the protection of children," Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said.

Among the report's key recommendations is the need for the central government to implement a protocol for all public health facilities where the medical treatment and examination of victims of child sexual abuse is in accordance with guidelines developed by the World Health Organisation. Doctors and medial staff should respond to cases of sexual abuse in a sensitive manner including minimally invasive examinations, the report said.

The National Commission for the Protection of Children's Rights should be given adequate resources to monitor the effectiveness of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, passed by Parliament in May 2012, which creates specific criminal offences for all forms of child sexual abuse. Appointed members of the NCPCR should be qualified experts in child protection and the commission should have the capacity to conduct independent investigations, the report said.

Set up following the Delhi gangrape incident, the committee headed by Justice J S Verma expressed particular concern regarding children in care institutions in their report. "Shockingly the very institutions that should protect vulnerable children can place them at risk of horrific child sexual abuse," Ganguly said.

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