The need to maintain family ‘honour’ took another life in the National Capital Region on Monday.
The parents of a five-year-old from Ghaziabad decided it was more important to hide the fact that she had been raped by her cousin than telling the police or the doctors who could have saved her life.
But this is not a phenomenon seen only in the outskirts of the national Capital.
Delhi leads other metropolitan cities such as Mumbai and Bangalore in the number of rapes committed by family members.
The parents of victims in these cases are also highly unlikely to report these incidents.
“In majority of such cases that we come to know of, parents, especially mothers, are keen on hushing up the matter.
Family relations and reputation is of prime importance to Indian families. It is a sad statement on our family structure,” said Ranjana Kumari, director, Centre for Social Research.
According to figures provided by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), 19 cases of rape by family members were recorded in the city in 2009. Bangalore was a close second with 15 cases being reported.
But experts feel that the actual number of cases is much higher than the reported figures.
“Families try to sort it out between themselves and keep it a secret. There is a tendency to protect the man and blame the child. In some cases, parents disappear after reporting the incident and no progress is made,” Kumari added.
Even if the victim wants to go ahead and report the incident, doing so without family support become very difficult.
“Our criminal justice system is not supportive. Children’s rights are still routed through their families,” said Rajat
Mitra, director, Swanchetan, an organisation that counsels both perpetrators and victims of crime.
“In western societies, a child’s complaint is taken up by government authorities immediately. This support is missing in our country,” Mitra added.