Girls in Gujarat record highest incidences of ‘sexual abuse’

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Ahmedabad:  More girls in Gujarat seem to be reporting “sexual abuse” than anywhere else in the country. According to a recent status report published by an NGO — Save the Children — over 63 percent girls in Gujarat have reported sexual abuse which is the highest in the country.

Madhya Pradesh (57%) and West Bengal (56%) stand second and third in the report titled, `Wings 2014: The World of India’s Girls’, conceptualised by the NGO and prepared by Advanced Centre for Women’s Studies of Tata Institute of Social Science (TISS).

The report that commemorates the 25th anniversary of world commitment to UN Convention on the Rights of Children (UNCRC), carries a congratulatory message from Dr Najma Heptulla, Union minister of Minority Affairs, and also mentions that about 36 percent of boys in Gujarat have also reported sexual abuse.

“The World of India’s Girls report 2014 comes at a crucial juncture wherein upliftment of the girl child is at the forefront of political agenda. The report offers an analysis of the policies and the current status of girl children in India. It comprehensively traces the journey of girls once they have moved past the hurdle of birth, captures their struggle and shows how systematically the society dictates life choices that determines their future,” states Heptualla in the report.

“It is a comprehensive report that goes beyond the surface,” said Darshan Tak, an official spokesperson from Save the Children about the report draws these sexual abuse figures from the “first all-India study on child abuse conducted by Ministry of Women and Child Development for an all India statistical understanding of the extent of violence against children.”

Gujarat also seems to topping the states in employing child workers. The report that relies on “secondary data, mostly sourced from the government”, quotes Gujarat as having 32 percent of the 28 million children engaged in child labour in India. It is as low as three percent in Goa and Kerala.

The chapter on ‘Protection’ highlights the specific impact of conflict situations like communal riots on the girl child. “It has been noted from examples like that of Gujarat (2002), Khairlanji (2006), and Muzaffarnagar (2013), that it is not just exceptional physical and sexual violence that girls and young women face. There is a long-term impact on their right to development, protection and participation due to increased restrictions, poor living conditions, loss of educational opportunities and early marriages as well,” states the report.

“What is common in these instances of minority girls is the total abandonment of responsibility by the concerned state governments of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh,” it adds.

“More than twenty years after the country opened its economy to the world putting itself on fast track of growth, the girl child remains an object of neglect, malnutrition, exploitation, rape, brutality, and murder, despite continued…

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