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Sexual Offences- Sexual Abuse Against Children

Girl Child
Girl Child


The aim of the study was to develop a comprehensive understanding of the phenomenon of child abuse, with a view to facilitate the formulation of appropriate policies and programmes meant to effectively curb and control the problem of child abuse in India. The National Study on Child Abuse is one of the largest empirical in-country studies of its kind in the world. This study also complements the UN Secretary General’s Global Study on Violence against Children 2006. The initiative of the Ministry to conduct this study was supported by UNICEF and Save the Children. A Delhi based NGO, Prayas was contracted to design and conduct the research and submit a preliminary report. To finalise the methodology, selection of states and districts, selection and appointment of zonal advisors, state project coordinators and investigators, selection and finalization of tools and techniques for data collection and formulation of questionnaires, Prayas constituted a Research Support Team and a Core Research Team. The Zonal Advisors and State Project Coordinators were responsible for ensuring quality and supervising and monitoring the process of data collection. A professional agency – Haryali Centre for Rural Development – was hired for data entry, generation of frequency tables and cross tabulation of data.

 After the submission of the preliminary report, the MWCD appointed a Core Committee to review the complete data, analyze the findings and produce the final report along with recommendations. The Core Committee started its work by examining the voluminous quantity and quality of data generated by the study. Right at the beginning it was clear that there were impurities in the data in terms of missing data, sample disparity with respect to gender, variations in the state-wise sample within evidence groups as well as within age groups. There was no uniformity in the questionnaires developed for child respondent and young adult respondents, making correlations very difficult. The design of the questionnaire for child respondents itself created difficulties; for example, the way the questions were worded, it was not possible to draw comparisons vis-à-vis incidence of abuse in different socio-economic groups or rural-urban groups. Also the design of the questionnaire was such that all abuse related questions were asked separately without establishing correlation with evidence groups; for example, there is no information gathered on sexual abuse of children in institutional care by caregivers of the institutions. However, wherever possible the Core Committee rationalized the impurities by removing records with large impurities, restricting analysis to intra-state and intra-evidence group rather than inter-state (except where otherwise stated) and wherever possible, highlighting inadequacies of data in the text. Nevertheless, because of the 135 variables in the questionnaire and the huge sample size an enormous amount of useful data was generated. Once this data was critically looked at, analyzed in detail, correlations established, charts, diagrams generated and conclusions drawn, a lot of significant findings could be derived out of the study. To start with it has provided revealing statistics on the extent and magnitude of various forms of child abuse- an area by and large unexplored. The study has also thrown up data on variations among different age groups, gender variations, state variations and variations within evidence groups. The findings will help to strengthen the understanding of all stakeholders including families, communities, civil society organizations and the state; and pave the way for more informed programming and further research to strengthen protection of children.


It has very clearly emerged that across different kinds of abuse, it is young children, in the 5-12 year group, who are most at risk of abuse and exploitation.

 Physical Abuse

  1.  Two out of every three children were physically abused.
  2. Out of 69% children physically abused in 13 sample states, 54.68% were boys.
  3. Over 50% children in all the 13 sample states were being subjected to one or the other form of physical abuse.
  4. Out of those children physically abused in family situations, 88.6% were physically abused by parents.
  5. 65% of school going children reported facing corporal punishment i.e. two out of three children were victims of corporal punishment.
  6. 62% of the corporal punishment was in goverment and municipal school.
  7. The State of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar and Delhi have almost consistently reported higher rates of abuse in all forms as compared to other states.
  8. Most children did not report the matter to anyone.
  9. 50.2% children worked seven days a week.

 Sexual Abuse

  1. 53.22% children reported having faced one or more forms of sexual abuse.
  2. Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar and Delhi reported the highest percentage of sexual abuse among both boys and girls.
  3. 21.90% child respondents reported facing severe forms of sexual abuse and 50.76% other forms of sexual abuse.
  4. Out of the child respondents, 5.69% reported being sexually assaulted.
  5. Children in Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Delhi reported the highest incidence of sexual assault.
  6. Children on street, children at work and children in institutional care reported the highest incidence of sexual assault.
  7. 50% abuses are persons known to the child or in a position of trust and responsibility.
  8. Most children did not report the matter to anyone.

 Emotional Abuse and Girl Child Neglect

  1. Every second child reported facing emotional abuse.
  2. Equal percentage of both girls and boys reported facing emotional abuse.
  3. In 83% of the cases parents were the abusers.
  4. 48.4% of girls wished they were boys.

 The gravity of the situation demands that the issue of child abuse be placed on the national agenda. The Ministry on its part has taken measures such as the enabling legislation to establish the National and State Commissions for Protection of Rights of the Child, the Integrated Child Protection Scheme, the draft Offences against Children Bill etc. These are a few important steps to ensure protection of children of the country. But clearly, this will not be enough, the government, civil society and communities need to complement each other and work towards creating a protective environment for children. The momentum gained needs to enhance further discussion on the issue amongst all stakeholders and be translated into a movement to ensure protection of children of this country.

National Child Abuse Study 2007




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