Page last updated at 18:07 GMT, Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Abuse of India's boys 'is rising'

By Jyotsna Singh
BBC News, Delhi

Young boy in India
The study says that the sexual abuse can begin when boys are six years old

Sexual exploitation of boys as young as six is on the rise in India, researchers say.

Abuse is becoming particularly more common in places of religious tourism, according to the study by non-governmental organisation Equations.

Children interviewed said the abusers were foreign and domestic tourists, as well as local residents.

Civil rights groups say there is an urgent need for the government to address the issue.

The study was carried out in the temple towns of Puri in Orissa, Thirupathi in Andhra Pradesh and Guruvayoor in Kerala.

The report says the abuse starts at about age six and by the time the boys turn nine they get drawn into full time prostitution.

The new findings come nearly a week after an Australian national was arrested on charges of paedophilia in Puri.

Boys unprotected

S Vidya, who compiled the report and is the programme co-ordinator for a Bangalore-based NGO, Equations, told BBC News that the incident was not an isolated case.

"The children interviewed mentioned that the foreign tourists relationships with them was very easy and the abusers were foreign tourists, domestic tourists and the locals also," Ms Vidya said.

"The foreign tourists stay in a particular place for very long and then they get used to the child and the child's family and they stay with the children and they try to abuse the children. With domestic tourists they go to brothels or middle men to abuse the child. Sometimes they are already abused by family members and later they are forced into it."

Ms Vidya says the current government policies are only geared towards addressing the abuse of girls. She says boys are equally vulnerable but they are being left out of their ambit.

Ms Vidya's organisation says the government must come up with what it calls zero tolerance towards any form of child abuse.

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