“How can anyone do this to a child?” This seems to be the question haunting a city trying to come to grips with what the rape of a five-year-old girl says about itself.
As the number of cases of child sex abuse in the Capital rises, sociologists and psychologists are trying to provide some answers.
The most important reason behind such heinous crimes is the vulnerability of children, say experts. “We do not create the right environment for a child to talk about sexual abuse. This makes it easy for someone to victimise a kid,” says Dr Anuja Agarwal, associate professor in Delhi University’s department of sociology, who specialises in gender and sociology.
Combined with this is the culprits’ confidence that they will get away easily. Children are less likely to identify attackers and report the crime. And if they do, they are not likely to be taken seriously.
What’s worse is the prevalence of people who wrongly believe that having sex with a child cures one of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, with the result that even newborn babies are not spared. “It is not in the social learning of perpetrators to see these things as wrong or unjustified,” says Nimesh Desai, director of the Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences.
Factors related to life in a city also seem to be driving such acts. Migration leads to the absence of deterrents embedded in one’s family and community.
“The alienation of city life can promote such behaviour. Migrants suffer such injustice that it becomes possible for them to treat others in the same manner,” says Agarwal.