Unmindful of the sweltering heat, an 11-year-old girl is crouched next to her slum dwelling seemingly waiting for someone. She picks up a ‘lota’ (pot) of water kept next to her, takes it close to her lips but does not drink. She puts it back on the ground, swipes the sweat trickling down her eyebrow, holds her stomach and lies down.
“I am waiting for my mother to return so that I can go to the toilet. I cannot go alone since there are men sitting behind trees and smoking. I have an upset stomach today. If I drink water I will not be able to hold it,” she says before sprinting bare foot over the sludge with her mother to a nearby jungle near the Bengali Colony slum.Govindpuri in southeast Delhi, which was earlier a transit camp for families to be resettled in Ambedkar Nagar during the Asiad Games, is now home to over 5.5 lakh people 80% of them migrants from West Bengal, Bihar and Assam. The area has over eight slum clusters, a jungle, and some pockets of middle-class Kalkaji Extension. The area recorded 37 rapes in 2014 second highest in the capital. Among the 37 raped, 22 were found to be minors.
With only 11 urinals across 11 locations in the area and four common toilets without any doors, most people avoid the long queues each morning and instead use the Tughlaqabad jungle popularly known as ‘TKD’.
Police said among the 5.5 Lakh people residing in the area, only 1.5 lakh are registered voters and the rest do not have any record of their existence. Being ‘anonymous’, most of these men indulge in such acts as they do not fear being caught.
“We see a lot of cases of men, either working as masons or labourers, who barge into the houses of these minors while their parents are away for work and rape them. These men are living away from their families and have urges. They see minors as easy targets,” an investigating officer said.
Parents of most of these children work as either domestic helps in CR Park and Greater Kailash or in factories and as scrap dealers in Okhla.
“It is difficult to trace them. Look at these congested bylanes, it takes ages for any new recruit to get familiar with the area. Despite being here for three years, it is difficult for me to locate a particular address,” the officer said.
Dunu Roy, director, Hazards Centre, said, “A place where there are no social ties, no services, a sense of desperation mounts and manifests itself in different ways. Rape is one such manifestation. Sensitising these men is not the solution as it is only possible with people who have a certain degree of comfort. The government talks about ‘toilet in each house’, but do they know that the plots in these areas are not more than 12 square meter which is just about sufficient for a room and a kitchen. Where will they build the toilet? You talk about sanitation in villages what about India’s capital? How about providing basic sanitation in these areas first?”
Activist Ranjana Kumari explains “social disconnect” of these alleged rapists as a force that drives them to commit such crimes. “These migrants are a non identity. They have a local disconnect. They feel that they will never get caught. They target minors because they feel that once threatened they will not report the matter.”
According to Dr Rajesh Sagar, a professor of psychiatry, feeling of isolation, lack of emotional support and social circle work as determinants in cases of rape. “These men do not practice restraint as there is an unwillingness to tolerate frustration.”