It’s a simple fact that there are far too many children, the world over, who live in conditions that no child should ever have to face.
Poverty and starvation are certainly terrible, but, for me, it’s mistreatment and abuse that are the absolute worst.
Too often do you hear stories of children who are treated atrociously – on many occasions it’s their very own parents who are the abusers.
In a shocking report produced by the Ministry of Women and Child Development in 2007, 69% of children who took part in a study in India had been subjected to abuse of one form or another. Of this 69%, 54.68 were boys, and in 88.6% of the instances it was the child’s parents who were the perpetrators.
An outrageous 53% of the children involved in the study had been subjected to some form of sexual assault. Again, more than half of the children were boys.
When the findings of the report were published, the Indian government knew they had no choice but to take drastic action to remedy the problem. A new law was soon introduced – one that came into force in 2012 – named The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act. Sadly, despite its strong intentions, the law has not had the desired effect.
Twitter/Ariella LebovitzOn the 20th February, the Indian authorities found a young boy, Abhishek, curled up in a pile of sand.
He was in terrible condition, having been beaten and starved.
Abused by his own father
Witnesses confirmed that Abhishek’s father, Mukhtar, would regularly come home drunk and proceed to beat and torture his son. When Abhishek was found, it was determined that he hadn’t eaten for seven days.
Although there were many people aware of the boy’s situation, no one was prepared to get involved. Only when Abhishek was close to death, did someone decide that they needed to contact the authorities.
Of course, Abhishek’s incident is horrifying, but it’s far from isolated. One can recall a famous case, from 2014, wherein a six-year-old girl was violently raped in a school. That crime sparked a huge debate over the ongoing struggles faced by children in certain areas of the world.
A report from Human Rights Watch testified to the fact that, sadly, there is a high percentage of cases concerning violence and abuse at home that go unreported.
As is so often the case in under-developed countries, barriers exist between the general population and their government. The fear of stigmatisation, coupled with difficulties in reporting crimes to begin with, can result in people opting not to ask for help.
To compound the issue, when the abuse takes place within a family environment, members of the community are less ready to report the problems, making it difficult for the state to intervene.
2014 law makes it mandatory to report abuse
Meenakshi Ganguly, leader of Humans Rights Watch in southern Asia, was particularly vocal on the subject.
He demanded a system wherein there was greater emphasis on monitoring public places where children were often subjected to abuse. However, it’s far more difficult to be on top of things when the abuse is taking place behind closed doors at home.
One thing’s for sure; societies have to start treating the problem with the severity it so obviously deserves. Intervening, when they see something isn’t right, shouldn’t be a choice. It should be an obligation.
Fortunately, one brave soul stood up for Abhishek before it was too late. On the other hand, had his society been working as it should, the innocent boy could have been spared several years of abuse and starvation.
India may be a country that seems so far away that the problems there don’t effect us, but that, of course, is simply not the case. Abuse isn’t isolated to any one part of the world; it’s an issue that we have to face together.
If you see something that makes you feel off, say something. If you suspect that someone might be struggling at home, ask them. If people are prepared to have the strength to intervene when they spot a potential problem, we might just be able to save more children from lives of violence and abuse.
Boy was denied food and beaten by father, who was under the influence of alcohol
None of us can do everything. Together, though, we can do anything.
Please share this story with all of your friends on Facebook. No child should ever have to go unloved or mistreated.