While statistics reveal that at least one in every five boys and one in every four girls are sexually abused usually by their relatives before they turn adults the government has not paid enough heed to the calls for a separate legislation to punish the perpetrators of such heinous acts,a city court said.
Peeved by the laxity on the part of lawmakers,even after a spurt in the crime against children,a city court expressed its concerns while punishing a man for sexually assaulting his two-year-old daughter.
Referring to the case in hand wherein a 34-year-old man had in May 2007 abused his minor daughter,who used to live with his estranged wife,the court noted: The present case is a glaring example of the growing menace of sexual abuse of children. Sexual abuse of a child of hardly two years is abominable and ghastly…and it becomes…barbaric when the victim is a small female child and the abuser her own father. Awarding a two-year prison term the maximum punishment under the law to the convict,Additional Sessions Judge Kamini Lau held that while the courts could not go beyond the statutes governing the sentencing system,judges should take it upon themselves to hand out deterrent punishment to such offenders.
ASJ Lau,who had in past orders favoured a separate legislation for the crime of incest,pulled up the government for its apathy. I may observe that the existing laws in India are highly inadequate in dealing with cases relating to child sexual abuse by close relatives,particularly where father is the perpetrator. There has been a long-standing demand for a separate legislation in this regard,but it appears that the issue has been (given) the least priority in the political agenda. The existing laws are highly inadequate in dealing with the aspects relating to consent and age of the victim in cases of intra-familial child sexual abuse, ASJ Lau said.
In its judgment,the court relied on the statistics provided by the central government and four other NGOs working in the field,which stated that more than 53 per cent of Indian children are sexually abused.
According to ASJ Lau,a new law was required more so because the courts were expected to impose a sentence that reflected the conscience of the society. Cases pertaining to child abuse have increased in recent years,most of the offenders being previously known to the victim or enjoying some kind of a fiduciary… which they betray. It is for the courts to meet these challenges by moulding the sentencing system to ensure that public confidence in the efficacy of law is not undermined, she observed.