BENGALURU: In what is being seen as a trend, an alarming one at that, a month-old baby and a young orphan boy were treated for damage to their private parts last month after they were brought to the Indira Gandhi Institute Of Child Health (IGICH).
Surgeons at IGICH are appalled by what they term Grade 4 perineal assaults, meaning a tear or damage that goes through the anus or rectum.
Just two months into 2018 and already doctors at the Government-run IGICH have witnessed two such severe cases of assault involving children.
The latest was of the one-month-old girl child from Bannerghatta Road, which the doctors suspect to be a sexual assault.
"We have done everything from our side, but the child's parents are not willing to take the case forward and file a complaint. Since there is no complaint, calling it a sexual assault would be wrong. But all examinations point in that direction. We have followed the standard protocol of filing the FIR and also informing the Child Welfare Committee, who have taken suo motu action," said Dr Nagendra Babu, Assistant Professor, Paediatric Surgery Department, IGICH.
The doctors, however, are certain that the predator was someone known to the child.
The hospital does not get many cases of sexual assault as it is not a referral centre.
But these numbers throw light on the extent of sexual predation in society and it is just a tip of the iceberg.
Another case was of the city orphan who was repeatedly abused by seniors at the orphanage, say doctors.
Last year, the hospital witnessed three such cases. But the cases have not progressed due to lack of follow-up action and stigma attached to sexual abuse, they said.
More shocking is parents' refusal to file complaints. "Despite us telling them to approach the police, there is always a hesitation among them, especially mothers. This points to lack of support if they stand by their children," said Dr S. Ramesh, Professor and HoD, Paediatric Surgery, IGICH.
He said that probably, these cases don't progress because the doctors are also not trained in handling such situations or getting more information from the parents or counselling them.
Dr Ramesh is currently appearing before a court to give expert opinion in a four-year-old case that was filed under POCSO. "The case got postponed thrice and but this will also drag on," he said.
"Sexual assault has become a silent epidemic which doesn't kill the person but kills their soul.
Referral centres get many such cases, and what we are seeing is just a tip of the iceberg," stressed Dr Ramachandra C., a visiting Senior Consultant Paediatric Surgeon at IGICH.
"Young children and pre-teens are scarred for life. Many a time we have to administer anaesthesia to even carry out the examination because they are scared," revealed another doctor.
"What we need is a proper mechanism like a mobile centre that comes in when a hospital reports such a case. The specialised team should take it to the next level of not just treatment, but also post-treatment, legal care and support for the victims," said Dr S. Ramesh.