A dark tale of domestic sexual abuse emerged in Jharkhand’s largest city after a 13-year-old girl died on Sunday, allegedly after “brutal” sexual abuse by her 35-year-old stepfather, who was arrested on Tuesday.
The girl’s mother and maternal uncle are also likely to be arrested for trying to conceal the crime.
The girl was declared brought dead at the Tata Motors hospital where she was taken by her parents on Sunday night. The family-members had claimed that she was suffering from “acute abdominal pain”.
Telco police arrested Pintu Singh after the post-mortem report confirmed “penetration” and signs of “unnatural sex” and the girl’s mother, on interrogation, admitted that the minor “had been sexually abused”.
Police have slapped sections 120 (a) 376, 377, 304, 120(1), 201 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 4/8 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO).
The sections relate to criminal conspiracy, attempt to erase evidence, false information to shield the criminal, culpable homicide not amounting to murder besides rape and unnatural sex. Police said that the sections were strong enough to “put away the guilty for life in jail”.
A resident of the Jayanagar locality, the girl was a class VII student of Ghorabandha High School here.
The girl had lost her father in 2001 and her mother, Soni (32), had married Pintu in 2007. Pintu was working as a guard in a private security firm.
Officer-in-charge of Telco police station K Pandey said what roused their suspicion was the fact that the body had “tell-tale signs of being washed”. Police also described the accused as an “alcolohic”.
“The girl was brutally raped and subjected to unnatural sex. And, it was not the first instance. The stepfather had abused the deceased earlier too. But what is most disturbing is the fact that the mother and maternal uncle knew about it. Investigations have revealed that they kept silent fearing for their ‘parivaar ki izzat’ (family honour),” Pandey added.
Jamshedpur superindent of police Karthik S, who promised speedy investigation and chargesheet in the case, said that “this case should not be seen in isolation. This should serve as an eye-opener for families in general who let such abuse grow for fear of false prestige and social stigma. Also, people don’t understand that non-reporting of crime in these cases is also a crime,” he added.
While the police chief pointed out that such incidents of domestic sexual abuse are growing in the state, a recent Unicef workshop had quoted
National Crime Bureau (NCB) statistics to show an increase of 0.3% and 2.7% in crimes against children and women respectively.
Incidentally, in the same workshop, then principal secretary (women and child welfare, Mridula Sinha had said that “the home has no longer remained a protected territory for women even if there have been a lot of progressive legislation in this field in the last 15 years.”
Referring to the girl’s abuse and death, practicing high court lawyer Shankar Lal Aggrawal, however, said that laws related to rape, especially domestic violence, need to be revamped. “The present laws are simply not enough,” he said.