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Delhi minors’ rape-murder: Certainty of punishment for culprits lacking, say experts

Delhi Police data shows that last year, till November 15, 919 cases of child rapes were reported in the city. In 2017, the figure stood at 921. The cases of molestation and abuse were much higher.

delhi Updated: Feb 12, 2019 15:04 IST
Soumya Pillai
Soumya Pillai
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
child abuse,NCRB,crime
Child rights activists and experts said that just making laws will not help bring down cases of minors’ rapes, unless the society and the lawmakers are sensitised towards the issue. (AFP)

With at least two rapes and more than 16 cases of molestation and abuse being registered every day in Delhi, the National Capital is one of the most unsafe places the country for minors, experts said.

The need of the hour, they add, was to bring about a societal change.

In two days, two cases of child rapes were reported from the city. In the first incident, a seven-year-old girl was raped and murdered in Nihal Vihar when she had gone to buy momos with her differently-abled younger sister.

The second incident took place on Monday, when a four-year-old was kidnapped by a 35-year-old man from her house and raped at a public toilet in Naraina.

Delhi Police data shows that last year, till November 15, 919 cases of child rapes were reported in the city. In 2017, the figure stood at 921. The cases of molestation and abuse were much higher.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), in 2016, Delhi recorded the maximum amount of crimes against children (39.6%) across 19 cities in the country. The city also saw registration of 1,374 cases under POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act, the highest in India.

Though the numbers speak for themselves, experts aid it was just the tip of the iceberg. They pointed out that many such cases are not reported because of the stigma attached to it.

Former chairperson of the Child Welfare Committee and advisor to Delhi Commission for Women, Raaj Mangal Prasad, said that trends show that the conviction rate in such cases have consistently remained low through the years, and though there is severity in law, certainty of punishment for the culprit was still lacking.

“Effective ways should be found to ensure conviction. There also needs to be a mechanism in place for the convicts who might have psychological ailments, which could lead to such actions,” he said.

Child rights activists and experts said that just making laws will not help bring down such cases, unless the society and the lawmakers are sensitised towards the issue.

Ramesh Negi, chairperson of the Delhi State Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR), said making stringent laws without sensitising people will not help control the gruesome cases of violence against children.

“The legislation has done its part, but the bigger problem is social. Society needs to guard its own children. We need to educate the boys in our families and this needs to happen from a young age,” Negi said.

Child psychologists said that unlike in the rapes of adults, child victims face major psychological trauma from such incidents.

Amrit Paul, a lawyer who has been working with the families of child victim for over two decades, said that in many cases victims — whose accounts are disregarded by families — initially develop behavioural characteristic of violence and aggression.

“Unless the act is gruesome and visible, parents tend to ignore the complaints of children, which results in long-term damage. Even when such cases are later taken to court, such victims tend to become silent against their perpetrators as they feel that if their family did not believe them, then the judiciary will also not give them importance,” she said.

DCW chairperson Swati Maliwal said, they have issued a notice to the Delhi Police asking to furnish reasons for “inaction” on the missing complaint filed by the seven-year-old girl’s parents on Saturday.

“The police must give details for the reasons as to why it did not act timely on the missing complaint. Also, we have asked them for the number of missing children cases registered in the area and the investigation done in those case.”

First Published: Feb 12, 2019 15:04 IST