Driven to desperation by poverty, a six-year-old girl's parents handed her over to an uncle - who took her to Rajiv Awas Vihar in Indore. At her new house, she was sexually abused and tortured almost everyday, and though her cries of pain were heard by neighbours, nobody bothered to intervene or
inform the authorities.
The manner of her demise still remains a mystery. While officials say she was beaten to death, a forensic investigator suggested that her uncle may have forced her into oral sex - fatally choking her by causing windpipe blockage.
Or take the case of three-year-old girl, who stepped out of her Bhopal house to watch a marriage procession go by. She was raped and murdered by three people, who then dumped her body in a nullah.
Over the last three years, Madhya Pradesh has had the dubious distinction of reporting the highest number of child rapes in the country. Of the 7,112 cases of child rape in India, Madhya Pradesh reported the highest figure of 1,262 cases (17.74%) - as per the National Crime Records Bureau data for 2011. Uttar Pradesh came a close second with 1,088, followed by Maharashtra's 818.
The picture is equally morbid in the rest of India, with over 19 such cases being reported everyday. As many as 7,112 such cases were lodged in 2011, up from 5,045 in 2007 - a jump of over 40% in five years. In the last five years, the highest number of cases were reported from Madhya Pradesh, followed by Maharashtra , and Uttar Pradesh. Delhi registered 1,649 cases - a worryingly high number for its size and population.
According to Tapan Bhattacharya, a social worker who has worked for children for over two decades, most of the victims were from poor migrant families that are illiterate and generally unaware of child rights. "The first instinct of such parents is to hush up the matter because they don't want trouble," said Bhattacharya.
The abuser, on the other hand, can be "anybody, from someone known to the family or an outsider", said Raghvendra Tomar of the Bachpan Bachao Andolan. Clinical psychologist Dr Swati Prasad said, "These are men who do not have a normal sex life. So they abuse children, who are the most defenceless and vulnerable."
The Madhya Pradesh police, however, view the high numbers as a good thing. "Instead of trying to hush up the matter, we proactively register such cases. Hence, the high figures," said Indore inspector-general of police Anuradha Shankar.
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