The alarming rate of child sexual abuse in India has led many activists to work towards the prevention of such cases. The KEM Hospital Research Centre (KEMHRC) has started an innovative initiative ‘Programme for Primary Prevention of Sexual Violence (PPPSV)’, providing treatment for individuals sexually attracted towards children.
Laila Garda, director of the centre, said the programme has been culturally and socio-legally adapted from ‘Prevention Project Dunkelfeld’ (PPD) introduced in 2005 by Klaus Beier, Charité University Clinic, Germany. For the past 12 years, PPD has been successfully working towards providing assessment and treatment to individuals with a sexual interest in children.
The initiative aims at providing assessment and treatment for persons with a sexual interest in children and/ or young adolescents who have just entered puberty. According to Dr Vasudeo Paralikar, head, Psychiatry Unit, KEM Hospital, the World Health Organisation (WHO) terms such sexual interest in children as paedophilia/ paedophilic disorder. Studies conducted abroad specify that possibly one in a hundred persons might have paedophilic characteristics.
Research suggests that many persons with paedophilia never act out on their impulses and abstain from abusing a child, explained Paralikar, who, along with Ujjwal Nene, is the principal investigator of the programme. They pointed out that paedophilia is many a times interchangeably used for child sexual abuse, but in fact both are very different phenomena. Paedophilia describes the sexual interest in children and/ or adolescents, while child sexual abuse is a behaviour, which is illegal and harmful. “Many people with paedophilia have feelings of guilt about their sexual urges and fantasies and possibility of social rejection can accompany the burden of disclosing it to others. This distress extends and also has effects on their personal, social and occupational life and relationships,” they pointed out.
The programme has introduced an online assessment and treatment through an internet-based anonymous and self-management tool known as Troubled-Desire, in India. Also, personal treatment is available for persons with paedophilia at KEM Hospital Research Centre in Pune and private therapists in Mumbai.
According to Garda, the programme offers personal treatment for persons with paedophilia that have not sexually offended a child and for persons who are inclined to watch child sexual abuse images (or “child pornography”), and have not sexually offended a child. “The programme aims at providing a confidential space that will help the individual to identify, accept and manage his/her sexual interest and abstain from acting out. Treatment is provided by experts with extensive experience in the field, who will help the individual to form better coping strategies, identify and develop ways to manage risky situations and lead a healthy psychological and physical life. The ultimate aim is to reduce the probability of child sexual abuse and also help people with paedophilia to live a quality life,” said Paralikar.
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