Ayushmann Khurrana Fights Child Abuse in IndiaViolence and abuse are harsh realities for millions of children in India. More than 40% of the country’s 440 million youth are unprotected and facing traumatic and dangerous situations. According to the Government of India, the frequency of all types of child abuse — physical, emotional and sexual — is exceptionally high. In 2018, the National Crime Records Bureau reported that 109 children face sexual abuse every day. The popular Indian actor Ayushmann Khurrana is working with UNICEF to fight against child abuse in India. 

Contributing Factors

Child abuse in India is often found among the poorer sectors of society, with domestic violence, drug addiction and illiteracy compounding the situation’s complexity. Injury, negligent care, incestuous exploitation and sexual abuse are all examples of child abuse. It can occur in various settings, including the home, schools, orphanages, the streets, the workplace or detention centers. 

More than 150 million girls and 73 million boys below 18 have been coerced into sexual activities, according to a 2007 report by the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD). The abuse was most prevalent in the homes of children aged 5 to 12, where parents typically perpetrated it. Studies show prolonged exposure to child abuse increases the risk of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), aggressiveness and emotional and mental health issues like anxiety and depression.

India’s Efforts to Combat Abuse

The Protection of Children against Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act) was enacted in 2012 due to a movement spearheaded by the MWCD to combat the threat of child sexual abuse in India. The act made many forms of child sexual abuse punishable by law. It also introduced provisions for the proper passage of justice. For example, authorities must record evidence within 30 days and conduct an investigation within three months. After that, a special court works on the case, usually reaching a judgment in less than two months.

Since the passage of the POCSO Act, the number of child abuse cases brought to trial has risen. This is largely attributed to an increased social awareness of the issue and because several actions are now considered offenses. However, a 2018 report from the National Crime Records Bureau found that abuse is still prevalent, where five cases of child sexual abuse were documented every hour in India.

Ayushmann Khurrana’s Passion to End Child Abuse

Ayushmann Khurrana is a multi-talented Indian actor revered as a generational icon. His work in films such as “Article 15” and “Andhadhun” inspired positive social dialogues. Khurrana is also a father to two children. Khurrana’s children have access to privileges that many Indian children can only hope to enjoy. This insight persuaded Khurrana to become an active voice against child abuse. The actor’s support for the fight against child abuse also derives from his belief that it is both immoral and stoppable.

Ayushmann Khurrana Speaks Out

Nearly one-third of India’s population lives below the poverty line. The poverty rate contributes to the increase in child labor because impoverished families are more likely to send children to work instead of school. And, in certain circumstances, desperate parents will sell children to child traffickers for supplemental income. Ayushmann Khurrana has been outspoken against child labor and encourages others to support a social protection plan for low-income families.

To help reduce child sexual abuse, Ayushmann Khurrana produced a video in endorsement of the POSCO Act. Khurrana’s video encourages people to recognize situations of child sexual abuse and report them to the appropriate authorities.

Ayushmann Khurrana has also been named the celebrity advocate for UNICEF India’s Ending Violence Against Children (EVAC) campaign. There are three main focuses of the EVAC campaign. The first focus of the campaign is to create an atmosphere that enables a multi-sectoral response. Next, the campaign will focus on the structural development of India’s law enforcement, government aid and health systems. Finally, the campaign strives to empower Indian adolescents through social and behavioral changes. UNICEF India anticipates that Khurrana’s involvement will offer empathy, enthusiasm and a prominent voice for every child in the eradication of violence against children.

Ending Child Abuse in India

With the increase in reported cases, India must now strive to reduce the frequency of child abuse. UNICEF India is aiding this with the establishment of child protection programs such as the End Violence Against Children campaign. Ayushmann Khurrana said, “With UNICEF, I look forward to supporting rights of the most vulnerable children, so that they grow up as happier, healthier, educated citizens in nurturing environments free from violence.”

– Tiara Tyson
Photo: Flickr

Problems and Solutions with Human Trafficking in India
With its current population of 1.3 billion people, India is the second-largest country in the world. However, with its size comes a myriad of human rights issues. With so many people in one country, many of them can easily fall under the radar. Human trafficking in India is one of the most prominent human rights issues within the country.

In India, kidnappings for labor and sexual needs have been constant. In 2020, a U.S. Department of State report identified India as a Tier 2 country. In spite of many genuine efforts, the country remains hindered by its inadequate solutions to alleviate the problem and the department feels that India did not sufficiently ensure the mitigation of the issue. Enslavement has also been a common issue. In 2016, the Global Slavery Index found that 18 million people out of 46 million people are enslaved in India.

Trafficking of Women

Within the system of human trafficking in India, most of those victimized are either women or minors. In 2016, The National Crime Records Bureau estimated that 33,855 people in India have been victims of kidnapping for the purpose of marriage. Half of this percentage consisted of individuals under 18 years of age. Kidnappers most commonly force women into commercial sex and indentured servitude.

Bride trafficking has also been a consistent commodity due to skewed sex ratios in certain areas. There has been a lack of women for the larger male population to marry, so many buy their partners. A UNODC report in 2013 found that of the 92 villages of the Indian state of Haryana, nine out of 10 households bought wives from poor villages in other parts of the country. The report also mentioned that most of the women experienced abuse and rape as well as working like slaves.

Child Kidnappings

Alongside the trade of women, many child kidnappings occur. Kidnappers force many of the victims into servitude within industries of agriculture and manufacturing. In 2016, the Central Bureau of Investigation estimated that 135,000 children become victims of human trafficking in India annually. Many of the Indian train stations, such as Sealdah in the city of Kolkata, have had reports of youth kidnapping. Due to the frantic environment of the station, most of these disappearances go unnoticed. A lot of these children either live near the station due to poverty and abuse at home or travel out to work despite the danger and illegality of child labor. Children have also experienced kidnapping during natural disasters. During an earthquake in Nepal, traffickers targeted children whose parents had lost their lives. Wherever traffickers send these children, they work in brutal conditions and receive little pay or nothing at all.

Action in Legislation

Despite the magnitude of the issue and the bleakness it presents, there are glimmers of hope. The government and the public have pushed to mitigate these problems. Prosecution and the tracking of victims are becoming a focus of legislation creation. The Ministry of Women and Child Development has worked to develop a new law to combat the issue. The draft law will include measures to make placement agencies compulsory and rules to monitor where workers are from and where they are going. The 2020 Department of Justice report recommended that increased prosecutions and legislation are necessary to combat the issues.

There are also Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) that can give outside assistance in helping trapped women escape. One such group is Chetanalaya, which is the social action group of the Archdiocese of Delhi. Started in 1970, the organization focuses on mobilizing volunteer groups and state and union governments to assist in its efforts. The group has managed to liberate more than 800 enslaved domestic workers in the past two decades.

Helping Faceless

With the rise of technology in India, many have looked to use new innovations to assist in their cause. An example of this is the app Helping Faceless. Created in 2013, it helps fight child kidnapping and trafficking through the use of search engines that use facial recognition to help find wandering youth. To assist in helping women, the website is available for anonymous documentation of sexual assaults and other horrific experiences. By 2015, 5,000 downloads had occurred and the app continues to grow with attempts to improve the technology. Moreover, some are proposing to bring it to other countries that have similar human rights issues.

Going Forward

While the current issues regarding human trafficking in India are immense, the information and technology available can help alleviate the problem. Looking into a problem is one of the best steps in creating a good future and, while it may take a while, there is reason to hope. With the large population in the country, there are many individuals who have survived these experiences and are ready to fight to ensure that others will not endure them.

– John Dunkerley
Photo: Flickr