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Protecting Innocence: Understanding and Addressing Child Sexual Abuse within Legal Frameworks

Child sexual abuse is a global issue as well as a major issue in India and many times the government tries to control the abuses against children through various laws. India is the home of 444 million children whose age is 0-8 years and 253 million children in their adolescents. The government and the judiciary work their best to protect a child's rights by providing fundamental rights and making laws like POCSO after independence.

Child sexual abuse

Child sexual abuse means any sexual activity that is in contact or without contact with the body, with or without her consent. Any sexual contact with a child by an adult using force or threat, no matter if there is deception or if the child is aware of the activity's sexual nature. A study found that a child is mostly abused by another child or younger child and not an adult.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) as:
"the involvement of a child in sexual activity that they do not completely understand, are unable to give informed consent to, are not developmentally ready for, and are unable to give consent for, or that breaches social norms or legal restrictions." this is a harsh fact that child abused by someone who knows even like and love might victimize a child sexually.

Most time the abuser is one of his family members like his parents or siblings or any close relatives whom the child trust and knows well. A child is not only abused by an adult but also a child can abuse another child that is dominating in position or stronger in physical or mental position.

One of the main ways that children are sexually abused is through child marriage; according to UNICEF, it "reflects possibly the most pervasive type of exploitation and sexual abuse of girls."

In a study in the US a child experience child sexual abuse in his/her life, 1 in every 4 girls and 1 in every 13 boys before age of 18. Most of the child abused by their known family member. Many people believe that child sexual abuse always involves the rape of the child, but this is not true. A Child is abused by both contact and non-contact with the body. Many times, a child is sexually abused only by forcing to make, view or share child abuse images or videos.

Types of child sexual abuse

Child sexual abuse is divided into two categories 0i.e., contact sexual abuse and non-contact sexual abuse.

Contact child sexual abuse:

A child is sexually abused in many ways and in contact sexual abuse, the abuser directly contacts the body of the child-like sexually or touching kissing, using a body part, penetrating a child, forcing a child to engage in sexual activity, etc. If a child is touched by any person in a sexual way to any part of a child's body whether the child is clothed or not is enough or a child is forced to touch any abuser's body part like pennies is contact sexual abuse. Contact child is not just penetrative sex but kissing, touching and even oral sex is contact sexual abuse.

Non-contact sexual abuse:

In non-contact sexual abuse abuser abused a child without touching his body, exposing or flashing, showing pornography, forced to masturbate himself, etc.

In the digital world, a child is abused through video calls. Many times, a child is forced by the abuser to show his/her body part on the call and participate in sexual activity.

Signs of child sexual abuse:

Child sexual abuse is not easy to identify even some children may not give any warning signs. When a child is sexually abused in contact or non-contact then they give many signs like physical and Behavioural that indicate that the child is sexually abused by anyone.

Physical signs:

A child who is sexually abused may give signs like bleeding or swelling in the genital part or difficulty in walking and setting or pain itching in the genital area etc.

Behavioural signs:
A child who is sexually abused may give signs by his behaviour like playing in a sexual way, depreciation, having problems in sleeping, etc are some usual signs by a child who is sexually abused.

What are the consequences?

A child suffers his whole life from sexual abuse. A child who is a victim of child sexual abuse is suffered in thinking, acting, and feeling it over a lifetime. Sexual abuse can result in short or long-term mental or physical problems. There are some main consequences that a child suffers after being sexually abused e.g.
  1. Physical injuries
  2. Depression
  3. Mental instability
  4. Suicide or attempt to suicide.
If a girl is sexually abused then may she cane to pregnant and that affects his sexual life.

Child abuse in India

India is a country where more than 444 million children live and Millions of children are the targets of exploitation and brutality. Despite being a serious problem in our culture, child sexual abuse is rarely discussed. Numerous health issues as well as a host of other effects stem from it. Child sexual abuse is one of the underrated offenses in India.

According to a recent study on the prevalence of sexual abuse among adolescents in Kerala, 36% of males and 35% of girls reported experiencing sexual abuse in his/her life at some point. According to the ministry and child development study on child abuse in India, the highest sexual abuse was reported in Assam with 57.27%, Delhi with 41%, Andhra Pradesh with 33.87%, and Bihar with 33.27%. and due to this child sexual abuse remain a serious problem in India and from time to time the number of child sexual offense is increasing. To reduce the number of child abuse in India government make child protection policies like the protection of children from sexual offenses (POCSO).

How to prevent child sexual abuse

Child sexual abuse is evil for our society and due to this many children suffer their whole life mentally and physically. In light of this, many NGOs, private organizations, as well as the government, try to stop child sexual offenses. our government tries its best to protect children from sexual abuse and makes many policies in which they provide harsh punishment for abusers.

Most of the child is sexually abused either by his/her family member or close known relatives. In light of this, preventing a child from sexual abuse is start with your family and your community.

Additional initiatives are required to prevent child sexual abuse:

We need to talk about abuse to our children about the sexual and encourage children to speak up. Children need to know that Nobody has the right to touch them or put them in a bad situation and make them uncomfortable. so as parents we need to be aware of our children about sexual abuse. This is important that the child know that his body is his own and nobody touches it in the wrong way.

Increase data gathering and surveillance methods to keep track of child sexual assault.

Government makes new policies to strengthen existing policies and programs and practices for the prevention of child sexual abuse.

Parents make them aware of child sexual abuse and prevent them from doing or becoming a victim of sexual abuse.

The Protection of children from sexual offense
The protection of children from sexual offenses is enacted by the government of India is a great step to protect children from sexual offenses. The idea behind the act was that there should be a special law that deals with sexual offenses and other offenses against a child. Because before this act the offense related to child sexual offense and other offenses related to a child was dealt with by the Indian penal code (IPC).

According to the POCSO Act, a child is someone who is younger than 18 years old. This definition, which is strictly biological, does not account for persons who have intellectual and psychosocial disabilities.

Recently in the supreme court, a case was filed in which a woman whose age was 38 years but she is mentally 6 years old. The senior advocate argues that" failure to consider the mental age will be an attack on the very purpose of the act" the supreme court held that the definition of "age" by chronological age or biological age has been deemed by the Parliament to be the most reliable standard, rather than referring to a person who is mentally retarded.

THE POCSO act covers all types of sexual crimes against children. The punishment of the POCSO act is more stringent and lays down the punishment of exposing children to any kind of sexual offense. The minimum punishment under the POCSO act is 2 years and the maximum punishment is life imprisonment with fine.

Child sexual abuse is a global issue in the 21st century. Every country tries to reduce the number of sexual offenses against the child through various policies. The government of India also makes many policies to prevent sexual offenses against a child. The child suffers through lots of problems after being sexually abused like mental instability, and many physical problems. To reduce the number of sexual offenses against the child we need to be aware our child about sexual abuse. And the government needs to make new policies or strengthen the laws for sexual abuse.

  1. 2022. [online] Available at: [Accessed 4 September 2022].
  2. 2022. Sexual Abuse. [online] Available at: [Accessed 4 September 2022].
  3. Ministry of Women & Child Development, Home | Ministry of Women & Child Development, (last visited Sep 4, 2022).

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