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How far will man fall? Rape of children is on the rise, not just in Kathua and Unnao

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There were over 1 lakh cases of sexual assault against children in 2016, and mere lip service about the death penalty may not stop this horrific trend.

New Delhi: It was almost a fortnight ago that a 10-year-old delivered a child with a half paralysed body. Her body, having been violated repeatedly by six men aged between 16 to 65 for a period of nine months, became the object of intense judicial scrutiny.

Should she be allowed to abort the child? The apex court ruled that an abortion was not in the interest of the girl child. And so she went on to deliver her baby – before she could fathom her own bruised, violated sexuality.

Fast forward to April, and the national capital and the country are protesting against another rape and murder of a child. This time, the child is even younger, and the barbarity, even more striking. The eight-year-old girl was drugged, raped and murdered — allegedly to force her community, the Bakerwal Muslims, out of Rasana village, Kathua, J&K.

As fate would have it, the Kathua girl’s death has been inextricably tied to the life of another girl in faraway Unnao, Uttar Pradesh. This girl, also a minor, was allegedly raped and “consoled” by her all too powerful rapist, BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar, last year. She has now lost her father, allegedly assaulted for daring to file a complaint.

They are not alone

Even while this piece was being written, reports emerged that a 10-year-old girl was allegedly raped by her alcoholic father in Uttar Pradesh’s Mahoba district, barely 160 km from Unnao. The child’s father was arrested Monday.

Monday’s newspapers had carried the story of another gruesome rape and murder alongside reports about the public outcry over the Kathua and Unnao cases. This time, an 11-year-old in Surat, Gujarat, was raped, tortured, and killed. According to the autopsy report, there were 86 injury marks on the Surat child’s tiny body, including in her private parts, seemingly caused by a blunt object.

Just last week, a 19-year-old man was arrested by the Jharkhand police for allegedly killing his five-year-old cousin. The alleged reason for the murder – the child had resisted a rape attempt in an abandoned building, where he took her on 4 April. Equipped with a knife, the man allegedly slit his cousin’s throat and threw her body in a dustbin soon after. He has now confessed to the crime, according to the police.

Less than a week later, another minor girl in Jharkhand was allegedly raped and dumped on the railway tracks with her limbs tied. While she has lodged an FIR, and alleged that two unidentified youths, who were hiding in the house, kidnapped her at around 2 am when she had gone out to fetch water from the kitchen, she is yet to recover from the trauma and identify the accused.

Meanwhile, in the national capital, a 15-year-old rape victim is fighting a battle against her own parents, who, she says, have accepted a bribe of Rs 5 lakh from the accused to withdraw the case. The minor, who was allegedly gang raped last year by property dealer Sunil Shahi and four of his associates, told the police that her parents began putting pressure on her to withdraw the case and even thrashed her, after the accused sent them Rs 5 lakh. The accused had promised the parents more. A deal was allegedly struck for Rs 20 lakh.

Rising number, falling fear

While the country may be waking up to these cases only now, Alakh Alok Srivastava, who has filed a PIL in the rape case of an eight-month-old girl by her adult cousin, says there is a general absence of the fear of law, especially with regard to children. “The present justice delivery system is not seen as a deterrent,” he says.

In what may be a validation of Srivastava’s argument, sexual assault cases involving child victims rose to over one lakh in 2016 across the country; only 229 of them were adjudicated upon by trial courts that year, as per information submitted to the Supreme Court last year.

While a red-faced government may now be scrambling for an effective response, including the possibility of awarding the death penalty to rapists of minors below 12 years of age, with cases of sexual violence against children increasingly piling up, numerous women’s rights groups have argued that it is the certainty of conviction, and not glibly made statements for stricter punishment, that will assure the drop in crimes.

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  1. Overtly generalized. The author – and the rest of India is getting to know of such incidents more because of internet phones. Mostly general public (read men) report such incidents first hand, as they are mostly outside their homes. Today, because of internet at the grassroots, we are getting to know of such incidents – and more criminals are brought to justice. The society was more feudal, more cruel in the past than its today. More men too are seeing the society in a rational, just way today. The author should understand this, and without being just feminist, she should talk about mental health of such rapists, and advocate about capital punishments or whatever she thinks appropriate. Generalizing men means her father or brother included, who are apparently not rapists. My point is take out the feminism or other prejudices, and demand for just laws, just society or eradicating such psychopaths from the society. Lets see a psychopath as a psychopath only, not a Hindu or a Muslim, not a man or a woman…

    • I am amazed by your thought process. Don’t be so overprotective about your gender. It is all glorification of men that has come to this, maybe it was worst before but who knows. You cant argue without facts. But today, it is what it is. Try to educate your fellow men about how to see a woman as a human and not as an object, maybe that will help, rather than sympathising with the criminal mentality. And by the way: Thanks for mansplaining the author.

  2. Ridiculous it is….a man is worst than an carnivore they are proving this. Where is the sensitivity…why are people becoming so inhuman that they have no fear,moral,ethics in their life……They all live in society where there are relation like father brother sister husband etc which they play…..don’t they understand this…they should realize that whatever is their act if gets reciprocated within their family…how will they feel. Is sex only thing which make them live?if so I am sorry they are not understanding the beauty of life. They are worst than animals and whenever such things comes to notice they should be publically punished or hand over to the public

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