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Help is Hard to Find for Child Sex Abuse Victims in India

on, unless they make their way to child welfare shelters that are few and far between and of varying quality.

New Delhi, a city of 14 million, has shelter space for just 2,500 children, half of them run by welfare group Prayas, which conducted the child abuse study released in April.

The group says counselling does help the children and teenagers who come to them.

"We want to remind them there is a second opportunity," said Prayas director Rajib Haldar. "It helps them unlearn some things and learn some new things."

But, like Gupta, Haldar warned that many billing themselves as counsellors do not have the skills to help those traumatised by abuse.

"It needs to standardised, certified, accredited," said Haldar. "Otherwise you can be creating more harm than help."

The young woman said that even though at times family and friends had questioned why she needed therapy to deal with an experience that "everyone" went through, she said it had helped her enormously.

She realised her overeating was one way she had channelled the abuse.

"It was an eight-year-old's way of dealing with stress," she said ruefully, though the rotund girl she describes is now difficult to spot in her slim form.

"There are people I know who are doing things that are not good for them" because of past abuse, said the young woman.

"I know for a fact that 90 percent of my girlfriends were sexually abused. What makes me different is that I'm out there talking about it."


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