Things to keep in mind about Child Sexual Abuse

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  1. Keep the following points in mind:
    • Memory: A traumatic experience can impact your memory. A victim may recall the event hesitantly, or may have accurate but fragmented memory of the event and experience difficulty recalling what happened in a linear fashion.
    • Emotions: In reaction to trauma, the victim may experience unexpected emotional reactions. While recalling an incident, they may remain unemotional or experience extreme emotional swings.
    • Physical response: Know that trauma can cause temporary immobility in a victim, that causes the body to freeze in situations that provoke extreme fear. Resisting or escaping for a victim experiencing this is not possible. At this point, a person experiencing trauma will not have full control over their muscle response. DO NOT FEEL GUILTY FOR NOT REACTING DURING THE INCIDENT.
  2. There are many instances when police have not cooperated with victims of sexual assault, when they go to report a complaint. Many times, policemen downright refuse to file a report. But even this is a crime. The amended section 166 of the Indian Penal Code says that a police officer who fails to register such a case could be imprisoned for at least 6 months and charged a fine. Therefore, do not give up.
  3. It is also not a good idea to threaten a police officer regarding section 166, if you have to get the work done. It is always better to go along with an NGO who deals with such cases. The police are well aware that most NGOs will not give up on the policeman’s word. Nakshatra is such an NGO. Of course, you have to be careful about the credentials of the NGO – first and foremost all credible NGOs in this line provide all services for free.
  4. The society and even the police are known to suggest that a girl victim be married off to the perpetrator! Please read about the strict laws against child marriage in India. Marrying off a victim to the perpetrator is as heinous a crime as the assault itself.
  5. The evidence collection and statement recording should take place in a place of the child’s choice, to make the child feel secure.
  6. Please keep copies of all police reports, medical reports, arrest reports and all other documents that are produced in court and which are supposed to be given to you for free.
  7. Under the Legal Services Authorities Act 1987(Chapter IV, section 12) you are entitled to free legal services. The Protection of Children against Sexual offences Act also has provisions of providing the victim with interpreters, translators, medical aid and cousellors for free.
  8. Sometimes, the defendant tries to make a case that he is mentally handicapped. The POCSO Act clearly states that this cannot be used as a defense unless it is beyond doubt.
  9. The whole procedure, from evidence collection to trials are required to be child friendly according to the Act. The evidence reports must be written so that the child can understand, and the trials should have enough breaks for the child.
  10. No child should be detained in a police station for the night.
  11. Child sexual abuse is an extremely bitter experience for the victim and affects him or her in many, may ways. Many times, the after-effects of the abuse remain even when they become adults. Therefore, counselling is an extremely important part of recovery for child victims. We stress on the importance of counselling for the victim, for as long as required. Nakshatra offers free counselling for victims of sexual violence. Here are some things a victim can do when he or she is feeling at their lowest.

Please read about medical aid required for cases of child sexual abuse.

You can also read about how to report a case of child sexual abuse and the laws against child sexual abuse.