“Do you like children in a way you shouldn’t?” This statement from a video to spread awareness about paedophilia says thousands of words in just one sentence. Not many in India are aware of paedophilia, a psychosexual disorder in which the fantasy or actual act of engaging in sexual activity with pre-pubescent children is the preferred or exclusive means of achieving sexual excitement and gratification.
To spread awareness about paedophilia and prevent sexual violence against children, the KEM Hospital Research Centre in Pune and the Berlin Institute of Sexology at the Charité in Berlin, have started the Programme for Primary Prevention of sexual violence (PPPSV).
Under this project, free and confidential treatment will be given to people seeking therapeutic help for their sexual preference for children or early adolescents — but only to non-offenders. The objective of the programme is to focus on primary prevention of sexual violence in India by developing and implementing strategies and treatment.
Dr Klaus M Beier, professor and director of the Institute of Sexology and Sexual Medicine, Charité, Berlin, said at least 1 per cent of the population is suffering from the paedophilia disorder. “The disorder is found more in men as compared to women, but we haven’t found any scientific reason behind it. There is no treatment for this but it can be controlled, just like diabetes,” said Beier.
Charité had earlier started the internet-based, self-management tool ‘Troubled-Desire’ to provide assistance to individuals seeking help for their self-identified sexual attraction to children. Beier said that in 10 months, as many as 1,750 people have taken online help for paedophilia through troubledesire.com. “A Marathi and Hindi version of ‘Troubled Desire’ will be launched soon to make the assessment available to local people,” said Beier.
He added: “This digital tool makes it possible to differentiate between potential and real offenders, allowing law-abiding paedophiles to receive personal treatment and offering real offenders at least something in their self-motivated search for desistance from child sexual abuse and/or use of child sexual abuse images.”
For on-site treatment, law-abiding people with paedophilia are directed to KEM Hospital Research Centre, Pune, and to individual therapists in Mumbai. After a detailed clinical interview and assessments that are culturally adapted to the Indian context, people with paedophilia and hebephilia (sexual preference for early adolescent children — ages 11 to 14) can receive treatment that focuses on improvement of sexual impulse control and leading a socially healthy life.
Beier described in detail the treatment plan: “The goal of PPPSV is to develop approaches for primary prevention of sexual violence in India by means of medical science and technology — focusing on the causes of child sexual abuse.”