Dec 09, 2023
Dec 09, 2023
“We are guilty of many errors and many faults, but our worst crime is abandoning the children, neglecting the fountain of life. Many of the things we need can wait. The child cannot. Right now is the time his bones are being formed, his blood is being made, and his senses are being developed. To him we cannot answer ‘Tomorrow,’ his name is today.” - Gabriela Mistral, Chilean Poet & Nobel Laureate
More by : Dr. Deepak Pawar
|This is a general disclaimer to all readers. I wish to clarify that the main intention of the above write-up was to raise awareness of this often-ignored issue. I wish to point out that this has been written keeping in view the Indian context and deals with all forms of child abuse; physical, sexual, emotional and neglect. Nowhere in the article have I condemned sex per se, nor was it my intention to arbitrate on age of consent to sex. |
If sex were pleasurable, can it allowed to be practised on a 4 year old, as in the recent case of the French diplomat in Bangalore? Doesn’t the onus of responsibility lie on the person intending to have sexual intercourse to ensure that his subject is of legal age, in accordance with the law of the land? I wish to point out that the International Classification of Diseases Version 10 (ICD-10), devised by the World Health Organisation for the classification and diagnosis of mental and behavioural disorders describes paedophilia thus:
A sexual preference for children, boys and girls or both, usually of prepubertal or early pubertal age.
A. The general criteria for disorders of sexual preference (F65) must be met.
B. There is a persistent or predominant preference for sexual activity with a prepubescent child or children.
C. The individual is at least 16 years old and at least 5 years older than the child or children in criterion B.
Furthermore, the ICD-10 considers the problem of child abuse under the heading, ‘Z61 Problems related to negative life events in childhood.’
Whilst in the west the issue of child sexual abuse and paedophilia has been discussed and studied extensively, it is only now becoming a matter of public interest in India. The services dealing with this menace have reached advanced level in the west, while they are still in the nascent stage in our country. The cultural context in India is also in variance with the west. In the UK, where I have worked, the age of first sexual experience decreases with each passing year. After all, the world’s youngest grandfather, all of 29, hails from the UK. While we, as a society, are on the path towards westernisation, we have not yet reached the level of ‘sophistication’ in terms of prepubertal sex that the west has. For these reasons, the above article includes the bare minima of child abuse, highlighting only important aspects, in the Indian context.
I wish to reiterate that the above article attempts to shed some light on the general issue of child abuse, which continues to be neglected, under-reported and mis-managed in India. I do not want this point to be hijacked by needlessly esoteric viewpoints.
|I have had occasion before to point out that isolating child abusers, and I deal here with sexual abuse, such as makes them appear so radically evil, is not seeing the whole picture. Just this evening, I read of the 'wildfire' escalation of child sexual abuse in the UK, even by children on children, as a consequence of pornography sites on the internet. The logic is simple. The act of sexual abuse is relieved of its taboo, and the next stage of imposition on a child known to one is less abuse than opportunism. However, from the point of view of a detached observer, the context of sexual licence in society is not taken into account as he condemns the child abuser in isolation - it even appears as if the sexual act itself were a terrible thing. |
If there is child sexual abuse it must be judged in the context of 'enlightened' sexual attitudes prevalent in society, chiefly, that sex is healthy and fun. The age distinction that society would like to draw between adults and children in the matter of indulgence in sexual activity, the so-called age of consent, becomes an arbitrary one, where it is not the act itself but being below the age limit that defines its wrongness.
The steps you advocate as a battle-plan against child molesters is the easier of two alternatives: though it has that tone of down-right condemnation which could never be applied to sex other than as a means of procreation.