Statistics show the number of sexual assault cases against children have continued to be on the higher side in the national capital.
According to the NCRB data, Delhi records the highest number of rape cases where victims are minors. 1,004 cases of rape of minors were registered in 2014, while in 2015, the figure was 927.
Experts say that the dangerous trend is to be blamed on the poor infrastructure, lack of sensitivity among the people and an exposed life that make children vulnerable to the crime.
Former IPS, Amod Kanth told HT that children residing in slums and unauthorised colonies are more vulnerable to the crime as they are often left unattended by their parents and are seen as easy targets.
“Majority of the victims belong to poor background. They live in slums and open spaces and live an exposed life. For offenders, these children are easily accessible and usually become their targets,” he said.
“Their parents go and work in different households and leave their children unattended. There is lack of protection and care and devils on the prowl, usually people in the neighbourhoods, find them as easy targets.”
Data compiled by an NGO and Delhi Police last year revealed that over 90% of minor rape victims were abducted from near their house by neighbours or tenants. Over 85% rapes took place in houses or in slum clusters where the accused were known to the victim.
Lack of proper infrastructure including basic facilities such as toilets and lack of proper lighting also make the children more vulnerable. “In many cases the victims share that they were molested or raped when they went outside their home to relieve themselves,” he said.
Gender expert Kalpana Vishwanath said that children fall prey and are seen as easy targets as they have no voice. “The rapists feel that they are going to get away with the crime as a child will not raise her voice. It is a very disturbing trend and needs proper intervention. Parents should be sensitised on the issue. The government should work on opening creches and day care centres for children where working mothers can leave their children,” she said.
Rishi Kant, an activist with NGO Shakti Vahini explained that most culprits are not convicted for the crime which encourages them to target more children. “These men target children aged between 2 and 6 years because they are unable to identify them in court and are unable to give a proper statement. These children are not coherent and their statement is not consistent. In most cases, the defence lawyers take advantage of it and the conviction does not happen,” he said.
Kant also blamed the rising trend on increased curiosity about sex in youngsters. “Most of these families live in one room tenements where the parents and children sleep together. At times youngsters witness sexual activity inside the house and get curious. They then wish to practice it and children in the area become targets,” he said.