Mission Vatsalya: Protecting Minors from Sexual Assault 

Mission Vatsalya: Protecting Minors from Sexual Assault 

Child Sexual Abuse has always been a hidden issue in India, generally disregarded by the criminal justice system and in public debate. According to the most recent Census, 17% of the world’s population lives in India, the second most populous nation in the world. India is home to over 19% of the world’s children, or 42% of all children worldwide, and around 50% of these youngsters require care and protection. When India joined the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1992, it committed to protecting its kids from all forms of sexual abuse and exploitation. The Convention requires governments to put in place systems to stop Sexual Assault on children. 

Minors and the Law

With the goal of protecting minors from sexual assault and harassment, 1023 FTSCs including 389 exclusive POCSO courts for expeditious trial and disposes of cases related to rape and POCSO Act, 2012 have been established as part of “Mission Vatsalya,” an initiative aimed at improving the legal and service delivery system for children. Vatsalya literally means the love that a mother feels for a child.

An infant who has not reached the age of majority or maturity, referred to as a minor or an infant, because different nations and even different regions within a nation have varying definitions of the age of majority also, the sort of action, such as getting married, buying alcohol, or operating a car, also makes a difference.

The majority of state laws now say that 18 is the legal age of majority; nevertheless, both state and federal laws may continue to forbid some actions until a higher age is achieved. For instance, in order to buy or drink alcohol, a person must be at least 21 years old.

Unless they are emancipated, Minors are assumed to be in the custody of their parents or legal guardians. Additionally, kids are subject to different legal requirements and processes than adults. For instance, juveniles suspected of criminal activity may not face adult charges or trials.

Sexual assault and harassment

Sexual behaviour or contact that occurs without the victim’s express permission is referred to as sexual assault. It is a form of sexual assault that may be committed against a friend, complete stranger, romantic partner, or family member. Examples of typical sexual assaults include:

  • Rape and attempted rape are crimes in several states.
  • Forcing a person to engage in sexual behaviour, such oral sex
  • Unauthorised sexual contact

Each state has its own definition of sexual harassment. However, it typically refers to inappropriate sexual remarks, behaviours, or gestures that cause someone to feel uneasy, humiliated, terrified, or embarrassed. Sexual harassment can happen everywhere, but it frequently happens at work.

Several instances of sexual harassment might be:

  • Unwanted demands for dates or sexual favours on a regular basis
  • Insults aimed towards an individual or a group because of their sexual orientation or gender identity
  • Requests for dates or sexual favours to a student Lewd or offensive remarks on someone’s beauty, sexuality, sex life, or physique
  • Sexist or transphobic jokes such as “women are always asking for it”
  • Staring, leering, or making suggestive movements
  • Flashing
  • Receiving inappropriate images or videos without asking
Child sexual abuse

Sexual contact with a child is child sexual abuse, which is a kind of child maltreatment also, when a perpetrator interacts with a child in this way, they are engaging in behaviour that can harm the victim for years to come and there is no need for physical contact between a perpetrator and a victim for child sexual abuse to occur. However, not exclusively, the following are some instances of child sexual abuse:

  • Exposing oneself to a child or engaging in exhibitionism
  • Fondling Intercourse
  • Masturbation in front of a juvenile or compelling a kid to engage in sexual activity
  • Any form of sexual contact with a child, including anal, oral, and vaginal
  • Sex trafficking
  • any other sexual interactions with children.
Factors facilitates child sexual abuse
  • Poverty
  • Overcrowding
  •  Extended family living arrangements
  • Abundance of street children
  • Lack of recreational facilities in families
Impact on mental health

Child sexual abuse (CSA) has a significant impact on a child’s general self-concept as well as on how they think. According to experts, CSA has a bad impact on a child’s identity since kids don’t comprehend that it’s not their fault and instead learn to blame themselves.

It increases their inferiority complexes, poor self-esteem, remorse, and shame, which impairs their sense of social identity and might have an impact on their academic performance. There is an impact on the relationship with others as the victims find it fdifficult to trust or get close to others after sucg events beacuase they are afraid coming off as odd or different.

Researchers have shown that experiencing sexual abuse as a child links to serious depression, eating disorders, anxiety, guilt, shame, and other negative emotions. Among its survivors, depression is the most prevalent long-term symptom.

In addition to harming a child’s capacity to recognise and express their own emotions, sexual abuse can also have an adverse effect on a person’s basic identity and interpersonal skills.

Those who have experienced sexual abuse as children are more prone to struggle with alcoholism and other drug addictions, and they may also start using drugs earlier in life. Additionally, there could be a connection between one’s reaction to childhood sexual abuse (such as depression, low self-esteem, or post-traumatic stress disorder) and your propensity for drug misuse issues.

If one finds out that the child is a victim of abuse.  No matter what one’s role is—parent or other family member, coach, teacher, babysitter—one has the power to make a positive difference in this child’s life. Recognizing the signs and talking to the child patiently and listening to them can help in solving the problem.

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