Civil society and state must join hands to battle sexual crimes against children

The latest horror story comes from Rohtak in Haryana, where a young girl was brutally gang-raped and murdered in the most savage manner.

Written by Kailash Satyarthi | Updated: May 19, 2017 9:15 am
rohtak gangrape, minor rape, sexual crimes, child sexual crimes, child sexual harassment, sexual harassment, child sex, delhi gangrape, delhi bus gangrape, nirbhaya gangrape, death penalty, supreme court, minor rape, minor sexual harassment, child pornography, NCRB record, indian express news, india news, indian express opinion The latest horror story comes from Rohtak in Haryana, where a young girl was brutally gang-raped and murdered in the most savage manner. (Representational Image)

There has been much debate over the recent decision of the Supreme Court confirming the death penalty for the rapists and killers in the December 2012 Delhi case. The gruesome crime had sparked nationwide outrage which led to the formulation of more stringent laws to deal with crimes against women and juveniles breaking the law.

But even as I follow this debate, I feel deeply anguished. The latest horror story comes from Rohtak in Haryana, where a young girl was brutally gang-raped and murdered in the most savage manner.

It seems there is no depth that sheer inhuman barbarity cannot plunge to. Consider the following incidents from 2017: A two-year-old girl was raped by her neighbour in Delhi and is in critical condition. Her parents had gone shopping and the girl was playing outside when the neighbour took her to his house. A five-year-old girl went missing in Bengaluru and her body was later discovered under the bed of a neighbour who was apparently helping the parents look for the child. A 10-year-old girl in Malda in Bengal was gang-raped inside a “club” and strangled to death. In a village in Aurangabad in Maharashtra, a 14-year-old girl was gang-raped and murdered.

These are just a handful of stories from across India. When the National Crime Records Bureau eventually collects, tabulates and releases the “statistics”, perhaps we will have some more debates on television channels and seminars. That is, perhaps, important and maybe even necessary. But this numbing sequence of savagery deserves more. Too many of our young girls are being exploited and the abuse of even one innocent child is an abuse of all humanity. We are at a stage where expressing outrage is just not enough.

So, what can we do? The rapists in the December 2012 case will be hanged. But it is clear as day to all of us struggling for child rights that the laws that promised deterrence don’t seem to be deterring barbaric rapists from targeting the young. It is also clear that television studio-based psychological analysis will not be of any help. No region or state of India seems immune to this growing menace. Some of the savages are illiterate; some are educated IT professionals. Many are neighbours, relatives and known faces.

The first step has to be the creation of a more alert and responsive police force. Many of us will recall the horrific assault on a girl child, “Gudiya”, some years ago. If the local police had responded in time, Gudiya could have been spared the torture inflicted on her. Sadly, in many cases, far from responding effectively, local policemen target the victims. One such story came to light recently when it was alleged that a 14-year-old rape victim in Kaithal district in Haryana was “interrogated” by male policemen and touched inappropriately by them. Thousands of similar cases are reported every year from across India.

Police reforms are urgently required and civil society must exert immense pressure on legislators and the bureaucracy to stop paying lip-service and initiate concrete action.

Equally important are reforms within the judiciary. While a few high-profile cases seem to get due attention, tens of thousands of similar cases face inexcusable delays, despite the promise of state governments to set up fast-track courts for rape victims. Some months before the December 2012 incident, another young girl in Delhi was abducted, gang-raped, mutilated and murdered. Despite the efforts of her parents, the Supreme Court, it seems, has not found the time to take up this case. If punishment is to act as a deterrent against such heinous crimes, then justice has to be delivered in a time-bound manner.

But beyond the police and the courts, the alarming rise in sexual assaults on young girls reveals a growing sickness within our society. There are no easy answers to these moral questions. But I am convinced that all of us in civil society need to urgently take up the challenge of sensitisation. From street theatre near slum clusters to awareness programmes in posh schools, all these tools need to be used aggressively and consistently. Our girls deserve at least this much dignity.

Just criticising is no longer enough.

We must act as family members, relatives, neighbours, friends, acquaintances and, most importantly, concerned citizens always keeping an eye on predators. Eternal vigilance is the price for not just liberty but also, the safety of our young girls.

(This article first appeared in the print edition under the headline ‘Outrage Isn’t Enough’)

The writer is a child rights activist and a Nobel Peace Laureate for 2014.

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    Sudhir Kumar
    May 25, 2017 at 6:25 pm
    Expressing outrage or increasing punishment is really not enough ! We should go to the root of all these. Our at ude towards the fairer is never healthy. Something should be done to change it. Most important thing is a rapist is not made over night. A social psychological study should be done to find out the matters which make a member of our civilized educated society a rapist. In the most highlighted rape case of photo journalist in the industrial area of Mumbai the culprit was found in a blue film Cafe. And it seems there are dozens of illegal cafes running in that area. Should not we stop those mind poisoning business centres. Most of us enjoy MMS clips of rape scenes. The demand of those clips too is another reason. Liquors, drugs, idleness, of unemplo youths , lack of proper guidance for them may too be few reasons for those crimes. Our social scientists should find out the remedy of the disease. Mere hanging the patient Will not solve the old problem.
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    1. प्रकाश सुथार
      May 19, 2017 at 10:14 pm
      I request to BJP lead NDA govt. to have a hovitzer M-777 to shot down these type of peoples. Rapists and ualters should be hanged in front of artillery and then it should be started. If we implement this penalty, I say with 100 of my faith and it true that India'll never face these types of crime. ualy aulting and raps are done in a large number because there is not enough fear in those people. These peoples should be boycotted by our society. And I personally condemn those organisations, groups who are working for human rights and even try to save these rapists from hanging down, they are just fraud not else... Give your thoughts in reply...
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        AMOL CHAURASIA
        May 19, 2017 at 7:44 pm
        Rape has become the play of words in our society, it's just like a joke whenever we open newspaper either in any form women are aulted or molested. People say 'chalta hai'. Police efforts are too much needed as a responsible and common citizen do. We live in that society today where people challenge laws every second either traffic or crime, just making a joke of our Cons ution. Durkheim talks about collective conscience which should first come from family then society. Make India what it deserves to be not what we desire to be, Perhaps our Cons ution makes us equal in name of law. So, respect it!!!
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          Harsh
          May 19, 2017 at 5:59 pm
          We have done huge sensitization in case of Nirbhaya, but why we fail in minimizing such crime thereafter raise question over our true motive. Like a mad animal we were happy in kil the culprit and forget to sensitize the people about the cir -stances that led to such crime and preventive measures that society has to take to reduce such crimes. We are expert in the marketing of lies and false and we have made a victim of our hypocrite instinct instead of treating it as common natural phenomena. Thus, there is a need to think about what type of healthy and legal recreation we can provide to such a poor and huge young population that can minimize such crime instead of sensitizing people to fulfill our vested interest.
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            Vasu
            May 19, 2017 at 4:28 pm
            Actually here both sides are guilty.We vote and elect our leaders who after coming to power enjoys the luxury of it forgetting about people.We common people think it's none of our business if something happens to any child that does not belong to any of our known circle.Some of us just simply don't care about any social issue unless they are subjected to some kind of trouble.It's only a handful people who want to fight for any injustice.While some of them may be silenced by govt tools others may get carried away by too much legal responsibilities which again does not work.So the local authorities along with the police should take strict action against whoever it is.Again if the culprits belong to rich or famous families,no action is being taken or a high cl lawyer is hired who will eventually grant them bail after accepting a huge fees such a country we are all hopeless.Everyday as Satyarthi ji mentions,thousands of cases happen while only a few registered.
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