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14 Oct 2019, Edition - 1553, Monday

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Coimbatore

Sexual abuse of children by biological fathers disturbingly high

Vidhyashree Dharmaraj

Six year old Rahul* is addicted to masturbation. He is so obsessed with this compulsive activity that he has had to avail emergency medical intervention because he engages in ‘self pleasure’ so many times a day, that it has drains him off all his energy, making him extremely weak. This started when he was just about five, when his father showed him pornographic materials, molested him and this continued while his wife was totally indifferent to what was happening.

The number of cases where biological fathers sexually abuse their daughters/sons are increasing in Coimbatore and children, mostly in the 5-10 age group, are turning to same sex or group sex for pleasure, said Latha Sundaram of Aram Foundation, an NGO working in schools to identify children who have been subjected to abuse and provide them help.

Child porn to justify act

The children begin masturbation without knowing what it really means or how an overdose of it could affect them. Most are not aware of what their father is subjecting them to because the man shows the children videos of child pornography to justify his act – “ This is what fathers do to their children”. There have been times when children express extreme shock or start crying bitterly (during counselling sessions) when they are told that what is happening is wrong.

These are not cases where the children as early as five touch their genitals out of curiosity. The situation is so bad that they are in need of intense psychiatric treatment lest their sexual life got affected as adults.

Girls are subjected to more abuse than boys and most cases go unreported because of the stigma attached. Mothers discourage the girl from speaking out when the perpetrator is the father.

No sex, no food

There are instances where the fathers will refuse to give money for food unless the mother allows him to have sex with his daughter, says Latha, adding that it is a Herculean task to get the mother to accept and turn her into a witness. The fathers who are perpetrators of such abuse are mostly daily wage labourers and invariably addicted to alcohol. “In cases where there is a need for police intervention, we get them to act sternly on the incestuous father,” she added.

Advocate Ambujam told The Covai Post that in most cases the mothers turn hostile in court because their life depends on the accused. They are stricken by poverty and hence turn indifferent to what the child is undergoing.

There is a need for a holistic change in mindset. A recent incident where a school refused to readmit a Plus 2 student who spoke about her uncle molesting her everyday while dropping her to tuition is shocking.

On the contrary, the incident where a Prinicpal of a private school took another Plus 2 student under her care after she suffered repeated sexual abuse by her ‘well educated’ father , is the way forward. The POCSO special courts to be set up in each of the district courts will handle these cases sensitively and the conviction rates could go up, she said

POCSO ends in compromise

POCSO cases most often end in compromise rather than conviction. The family turns hostile and does not pursue when the accused is father, says Superintendent of Police Sujith Kumar who has been handling such cases with an iron fist. He said the department would engage women police to create awareness on ‘Good and Bad Touch’ in schools and also counsel children if they are identified.

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