Millions of girls in India face obstacles in their lives, experiencing various forms of discrimination, exploitation and abuse on account of their age and their sex. Each year, an increasing number of children in India face sexual violence.
Recently, there have been cases of rape that have galvanized global attention and sparked mass demonstrations and widespread debate on the issue of sexual violence directed at children.
However, there are many cases that go under reported. Fear of social stigma and victimization often stop children and their families from reporting these crimes. In India, a total of 48,338 child rape cases were recorded from 2001 to 2011.
The registration of cases of child rape have been consistently increasing from 2001 (2,113 cases) to 2011 (7,112 cases) - a 336% increase of child rape cases. Of the total 24,270 reported cases in 2011, a staggering 7,112 or 30 per cent were girls up to 18 years of age.
Since much violence is hidden from public view – and because it is too often tolerated – the numbers do not reflect the true magnitude of the problem. When violence occurs, the physical wounds or bruises may disappear but the mental scars may not.
Sexual violence affects children’s physical and mental health, compromises their ability to learn and socialize, and undermines their development as functional adults and good parents later in life.
There is no place for sexual violence against children in the 21st century. Yet it continues to destroy lives in every country and at all levels of society. Too often, however, it is an invisible problem because it occurs within homes and families or because people turn a blind eye to it, or simply fail to report it due to fear or stigma.
The ENDviolence campaign Initiative seeks to bring together new ideas, new thinking, and new examples of where people can focus their efforts and energies to raise awareness about sexual abuse in India and bring about an end to it.
This is not a one-off effort, but a collective effort and a sustained initiative that will shine an ever brighter light on an issue that has remained invisible for far too long.