Rape of minors on rise in Delhi
Minors, mostly below 10 years, are the victims in one-third of the total rape cases registered with the RCC, reports Pallavi Polanki.delhi Updated: Jan 26, 2008 03:34 IST
Minors, most of them under the age of 10, are the victims in one-third of the total rape cases registered with the Rape Crisis Cell (RCC) of the Delhi Commission of Women.
Of the 69 cases registered with the RCC in 2007, victims in 21 were minors. In 2006, of the 199 cases, 45 of the victims were minors.
The number of cases, however, is lower than the actual figures for Delhi since all rapes reported to the police are not necessarily registered with the RCC.
“What is disturbing is that in a majority of cases, victims are below 10 years — the youngest victim was one-and-a-half-years-old,” said Shalini Sati, coordinator, RCC. The 18-month-old was raped by a passerby when she was sleeping with her father outside their house. Her internal organs were severely damaged and she had to undergo reconstruction surgery last October.
The latest (2006) statistics of the National Crime Records Bureau reveal that rape was the fastest growing crime in India.
Rajib Haldar, executive director, Prayas — an NGO that runs one of the nine crisis intervention centres for rape victims in Delhi — said there has been a 20 per cent increase in the reporting of rapes of minors in the last year.
“Minors, especially those who grow up in the slums, are more vulnerable to such crimes. Also, now more and more victims’ families are coming forward to report rape,” said Haldar.
The temporary shelter for children at Prayas has seven minors who are victims of rape.
“The youngest victim was a five-year-old girl. She was raped in Janaury last year by her 42-year-old landlord when her parents were out. She is now going to school, she is a class II student in a central school,” said Kriti Kaushal, manager of the shelter.
According to Vidya Reddy of Tulir, Centre for the Prevention and Healing of Child Sexual Abuse, greater legal awareness is leading to increased reporting of rape of minors.
Contributing to the incidence of this crime, say voluntary groups, is the lack of awareness among children about sexual abuse. "Children have to be educated about how touching of certain parts of their body is abuse. And that they should be careful even with people they think they can trust," said Sunita Thakur, project associate at Jagori, a resource centre for women.
Referring to another possible cause, Reddy emphasised the need for stringent laws against child pornography, “International studies such as the Andres E Hernandez, US Justice Department, 2006, have confirmed how viewing of sexual abuse images (child pornography) fuels sexual abuse of children.”