Reporting Animal Cruelty Makes Children Safer

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Reporting Animal Cruelty Makes Children Safer Blog Image

Why in News?

  • The issue of child abuse in India is a serious and widespread concern that has gained attention through a significant empirical study conducted by the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development in 2007.
  • The findings of the study revealed alarming rates of child abuse in India and despite the gravity of these statistics, the study pointed out a significant gap in addressing the underlying factors contributing to child abuse.

Key Findings of Study Conducted by Ministry of Women and Child Development

  • This comprehensive study was aimed to assess the prevalence of various forms of child abuse, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect of girl children across the country.
  • The study reported that two out of every three children had experienced physical abuse, indicating a pervasive problem within the society.
  • Additionally, over half of the children surveyed reported having faced one or more forms of sexual abuse, highlighting the disturbingly high incidence of such incidents.
  • Equally concerning was the fact that every second child reported experiencing emotional abuse, which reflects the multifaceted nature of the problem.

Factors Contributing to Child Abuse

  • Family Structure and Size: The dynamics within Indian families may play a role in child abuse. Large families or certain family structures might create conditions that make children more vulnerable to abuse.
  • Ineffective Implementation of Laws
    • Despite existing laws for child protection, their implementation is not effective.
    • This reflects a systemic issue within the legal and judicial systems, where the mechanisms for enforcing these laws may be inadequate or inefficient.
  • Poverty
    • Poverty may be identified as a socio-economic factor contributing to child abuse.
    • Families facing economic hardships may struggle to provide a safe and nurturing environment for their children, potentially leading to instances of abuse.
  • Illiteracy: Illiterate individuals may be unaware of child rights or lack the means to advocate for their children effectively.
  • Cultural Factors
    • Cultural factors can significantly influence societal norms and behaviours. Certain cultural elements may contribute to the prevalence of child abuse.
    • This could include attitudes towards discipline, gender roles, or the acceptance of certain behaviours within families.

Introduction of a Fresh Perspective: Link Between Child Abuse and Animal Cruelty

  • There is another crucial element that has been missing from the discourse on child protection in India; less-explored aspect of the connection between child abuse victims and animal cruelty.
  • The connection between child abuse victims and animal cruelty has not been adequately explored or discussed in the discourse on child protection.
  • There are shared characteristics or patterns of behaviour between individuals who perpetrate child abuse and those who engage in animal cruelty.
  • Understanding this connection could have implications for identifying and addressing the root causes of abuse.
  • Therefore, rather than addressing child abuse in isolation, exploring links with other forms of violence, such as animal cruelty, could provide a more comprehensive understanding of the underlying issues.
  • The link between animal cruelty and human violence first came to light in 1751 with William Hogarth’s Four Stages of Cruelty.
  • Since then, there have been a plethora of studies highlighting this undeniable link.

Evidence Based Studies Highlighting the Link Between Child Abuse and Animal Cruelty

  • Study Conducted in England
    • A 1980 pilot study conducted in England found evidence that suggested that children are at risk of abuse or neglect in households that abuse their family pet.
    • According to the study, out of the 23 families that had a history of animal abuse, 83% had been identified by human social service agencies as having children at risk of abuse or neglect.
  • 1983 Study in the US: A different study of 53 families in which child abuse had occurred, carried out in New Jersey (U.S.) found that animal abuse and child abuse co-occurred in 88% of the cases.
  • 2019 US Study on Homes with Interpersonal Violence
    • It was found that in 3% of the cases, threats and violence towards animals are used to coerce children into compliance so that they do not report the abuser.
    • As per the study, since animals are threatened to result in compliance of the child, some of this violence is done without the knowledge of other caregivers.

Significance of Linking Animal Cruelty to Child Abuse in the Indian Context

  • Can Serve as Circumstantial Evidence
    • In many cases, animal abuse is easier to detect than child abuse and is also usually easier for victims of domestic violence (including children) to report.
    • Early identifications of homes with animal abuse may save other human victims encountering abuse.
    • This can also serve as circumstantial evidence in custody and child abuse hearings as it is difficult for children to provide detailed accounts of their own abuse.
  • Can Act as A Deterrent for Further Acts of Violence
    • Reporting animal abuse and consistently enforcing anti-cruelty laws can act as a deterrent for further acts of violence against not only animals but also humans.
    • It is therefore imperative to report, register and prosecute cases involving animal cruelty.

 Way Forward

  • The Link Must be Studied in Indian Context
    • There is a strong link between animal cruelty and child abuse and law enforcement agencies in other countries have devoted resources to studying the co-occurrence of animal cruelty with other forms of violent crimes, especially crimes against children.
    • In India, there is no study that empirically assesses this link and therefore, there is an urgent need to investigate it further in the Indian context.
  • Need to Enforce Anti-Cruelty Laws Strictly
    • The National Crime Records Bureau does not even collect data on offences registered and prosecuted under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.
    • As studies in other countries have shown, the collection and aggregation of this data can prove to be a significant tool for law enforcement agencies to understand how different crimes overlap, and prevent the occurrence of these crimes.
    • Poor enforcement of anti-cruelty laws therefore not only harms animals, but also human victims of violence. 
    • The link shows that both human and animal victims of crime are prone to victimisation by the same perpetrator.
    • There is an opportunity for stakeholders in the child protection and animal protection movements to collaborate to meet their collective objective of reducing abuse.

Conclusion

  • Reporting and prosecuting animal abuse is not just about saving animals; it is about protecting children from violence and securing a brighter future for them.
  • Understanding this important link can stop the cycle of violence at its source and help make children safer.

Q1) What are the legislations related to animal welfare?

Initial efforts to legislate on the issue emanated from an elementary ethical perception that our collective conscience makes it morally wrong to inflict unnecessary pain and suffering on animals. It was with this vision in mind that Parliament enacted the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCA Act), in 1960. It provided punishment for causing unnecessary cruelty and suffering to animals and established the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) to oversee animal welfare.

Q2) What is the Animal Welfare Board of India?

AWBI is a statutory advisory body under the Union Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying (Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying). It derives its legal structure from the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, of 1960. It was established in 1962. It was started under the stewardship of Late Smt. Rukmini Devi Arundale is a well-known humanitarian.


Source: The Hindu