The Gurgaon district administration does not have any guidelines in place to deal with child abuse cases.
The shocking revelation was made in response to a Right to Information (RTI) application filed by activist Aseem Takyar.
Through the application filed on January 7, Takyar sought to know if the state directorate of school education had been taking action to safeguard children from the heinous crime of sexual abuse. In reply to the plea, the state public information officer replied, “No guidelines have been received from NCERT or the central government with reference to Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Bill, 2011.”
This implies that the entire country does not have a special set of laws that protect children from abuse. Due to the absence of a defining law for the offence, the Gurgaon police have not been able to keep a record of the number of child abuse cases in the district.
According to lawyers in Gurgaon, there is a dire need for a policy as such offences are being widely reported since the December 16 gang-rape case in Delhi. “After the Delhi gang-rape, attitudes have changed, sensitivity has increased and people have become aware of the offence,” said Anju Rawat Negi, criminal and matrimonial lawyer. Negi, who is associated with NGO Farishte that fights cases of child abuse for free, attends to nearly three to four such cases every month.
Child abuse comprises emotional, physical and mental torture, and maltreatment of the child. School counsellors in the city opine that mental and emotional torture cannot be accounted for as it is very difficult to prove these. But even they have felt the need for a set of guidelines that checks child sexual abuse.
“Sexual offences against children cannot be seen with the same parameter used for adults. It is social media which has acted as a catalyst in such crimes as children don’t know how much information to reveal online,” said Surbhi Talwar, counsellor, Delhi Public School, Sushant Lok.
Lawyers have also observed a distinct trend with regard to child abuse in Gurgaon. It is seen that most of the accused are middle-aged migrant men who live alone here. “In most of these cases, the accused are migrant labourers, who lure the children with chocolate and food. But, children are more prone to molestation than rape. And, unfortunately, only 30% of the molestation cases are reported,” said Negi.
Experts also feel there is lack of knowledge about the use of Section 377 of the IPC, the section that applies to child abuse.