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Govt's animated video message on child abuse to be shown in theatres, online plaints encouraged

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NEW DELHI: Over a decade after a government report declared that every fifth child is subject to child abuse in his or her own home, an anti-child abuse documentary is planned to be made mandatory for all movie theatres across the country to spread the message of "Acting against child abuse."

Urging viewers to 'Say no to child sexual abuse', the idea of the film came after an assessment of anti-tobacco films screened in movie theatres and television. The short 30-second animation video will be screened not only at the start of the film, but also during intervals so that viewers do not miss the message.

The short has been made by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), which is an official body under the ministry for women and child development. It is aimed at encouraging people to report such incidents.

The NCPCR claims that no fee will be charged by the theatres for screening the video, which is in Hindi and English, and features the minister for women and child development Maneka Gandhi.

Initially, this short will be screened in 11 theatres in the capital but will later be extended in all theatres in the country.

A victim or someone known to the victim can report the matter by just writing 'Please help'. It is mandatory to provide a mobile number so that the complainant can be contacted. It is not necessary to narrate the incident on the digital platform.

According to National Crime Record Bureau, 94,172 cases were reported in 2016 across the country.

Apart from conveying the message, the POCSO e-box facility will be promoted to encourage people to register online complaints. This is an online complaint management system for easy and direct reporting of sexual offences against children and timely action against offenders under the POCSO Act, 2012.

While launching the e-box in 2016, Gandhi had said the idea came out of a police initiative in which complaint boxes were placed in schools. 'A large number of abuse incidents are against close relatives and so they get pushed under the carpet,' she had said.

According to a study, sources in NCPCR said, about 53 per cent of children surveyed reported having faced some form of sexual abuse. In most cases, the offender is a family member/ near relative or an acquaintance.

"Victims in such cases do not generally report the offences. Sexual abuse scars the psyche of the affected child for life. A child who is sexually abused has to face serious consequences such as cognitive impairment, violent and risky behaviour, including depression and anxiety," the study notes.

"Feeling shameful and guilty with poor interpersonal relationship and self-esteem are other consequences of sexually abused children," the study observes.

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