'More than 50% Indian kids face sexual abuse'
Ashis Ray, TNN, Oct 27, 2010, 05.47am IST - THE TIMES OF INDIA
LONDON: In a shocking revelation, more than 50% children interviewed for a survey in India to determine the extent of violence against them said they had faced sexual abuse. In total, 12,500 school kids in 13 states between five and 18, as well as otherwise, took part in the research.
The report by Plan International, a children's organization here, said India is dubiously ranked third among 13 countries in terms of estimated economic cost of corporal punishment. Plan calculated that anything between $1.4 billion and $7.4 billion was lost every year in India by way of social benefits because of physical ill-treatment in schools. This is premised on how the larger economy is affected by the impact of such punishment, causing poor pupils' attendance and academic performance.
Only the US and Brazil suffered greater economic damage in the same sphere. Plan also studied Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, Bolivia, Jordan and Egypt.
According to Plan's findings, corporal punishment is widespread in Indian schools, despite being illegal. More than 65% children, its report claimed, said they were beaten. A majority of such victims are in state schools.
The study also discovered that caste and gender discrimination was the major cause of violence against children. It said many students abandoned their studies because of such humiliation, which included hitting with hands or sticks, making them stand in various positions for long periods and tying them to chairs. More boys (54%) than girls (45%) were subjected to corporal punishment. Plan blamed "societal acceptance of violence as a form of discipline" for it and pointed to a lack of awareness about children's rights in India.
In the schools surveyed, there were at least five beatings of students a day. Interestingly, many among the students interviewed believed corporal punishment was sometimes necessary. Students in Assam, Mizoram and UP reported highest rates of corporal punishment, while Rajasthan and Goa the lowest.