In 2007, the Indian Government published the results ‘Study of Child Abuse: India 2007’ - one of the world's largest and most sophisticated carried out in collaboration with Save the Children and UNICEF - on child abuse. It reported that around two thirds of children across India have been victims of physical abuse - the majority are beaten in school and over half are forced to work seven days a week. Half of all children have experienced emotional abuse. The report also suggests that India has the world's largest number of sexually abused children with over 50% of children having faced some kind of sexual abuse and some 20% of them severe abuse. Shocking statistics show that a child below 16 years of age is raped every 155th minute, and a child below 10 years of age every 13th hour.
Street children and abuse go hand in hand. Recent studies have shown that the overall incidence of abuse amongst street children, either by a family member or by others or both, is a staggering 66.8% across India. Many children living on the streets end up there as a result of running away from abuse at home. Sadly, many face even more on the street by exploitative individuals, forcing them into child labour and prostitution - there is estimated to be around 5 million commercial sex workers under the age of 18 years old, which forms 40% of the total population of commercial sex works in India. 500,000 new children are forced into this appalling trade every year.
Abused children are left emotionally scarred and suffer from physical injury. As a result of these traumatic experiences, which sometimes last for years, many children become withdrawn, refusing to speak and engage with others including those wanting to help. Their already low self-esteem and confidence becomes shattered and they often blame themselves for what might have happened thus becoming consumed by guilt.