From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Paedophilia
Mains level : Child sexual abuse - the disease behind it
In matters of sexual crime and criminals, where there is a social revulsion towards the perpetrators, the law is blunt and the public discourse is vitiated by a collective desire for revenge.
- Paedophilia has been classified by the WHO as a disease.
- There are few mental health professionals in India equipped to deal with it.
- Over 300 people suspected of having paedophilic tendencies have reached out to a network of psychologists and psychiatrists based in Mumbai and Pune, seeking help.
- There are severe legal consequences for those who sexually assault and target children under the POCSO Act.
- But doctors in Mumbai attempt to treat paedophilia through counseling and antidepressants.
- This is especially for those who are “at the lower threshold of the disease” and have not been booked under the Act.
- According to Klaus Beier, director of the Institute of Sexology and Sexual Medicine, at least 1% of the male population suffers from paedophilia.
- Given India’s population, it cannot be left unaddressed and untreated.
- The initiative to treat people who want to deal with their paedophilic tendencies is welcome.
- Often, the fear of the stigma that comes with articulating such feelings leads to horrifying consequences.
- A section of mental health professionals are taking a series of steps — from anonymous helplines to expanding the number of doctors capable of managing the disorder.
- Any society cannot leave the well-being of its children outside the ambit of the law. Once acts of sexual violence are committed, they must be prosecuted.
- It is also important to deal with those who seek treatment with compassion and sympathy.
- It is important to treat the disease, not merely punish the diseased.