Most of the child victims of sexual assault in India face humiliation while undergoing medical tests apart from the police who often do not believe their account, according to a Human Rights Watch report.
The 82-page report, 'Breaking the Silence: Child Sexual Abuse in India', released on Thursday found that the government's responses were falling short in protecting children from sexual abuse and treating the victims.
It asked the government to improve protection for children from sexual abuse as part of broader reform efforts. The government efforts to tackle the problem, including new legislation to protect children from sexual abuse, would also fail unless protection mechanisms were properly implemented and the justice system reformed to ensure that abuse is reported and fully prosecuted, the report said.
"India's system to fight child sexual abuse is inadequate because government mechanisms fail to ensure the protection of children," Meenakshi Ganguly, south Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said.
"Children who bravely complain of sexual abuse are often dismissed or ignored by the police, medical staff, and other authorities," she added.
The report said many children were effectively mistreated a second time by traumatic medical examinations and by the police and other authorities who do not want to hear or believe their accounts. Child sexual abuse was disturbingly common in homes, schools, and residential care facilities, it said.
The HRW, while preparing its report, conducted more than 100 interviews with victims of child sexual abuse and their relatives, government child protection officials and independent experts, police officers, doctors, social workers, and lawyers who have handled such cases.
Addressing child sexual abuse is a challenge all over the world, but in India shortcomings in both state and community responses add to the problem, the Human Rights Watch said.