ON OCTOBER 31, by the time her school ended for the day, the 10-year-old had decided to tell her mother something she had been hiding for the past 18 months — that her cousin had been abusing her. The decision was triggered by a lecture given by a ‘Police didi’, who has been visiting her school and sensitising children on sexual harassment.
“The ‘Police didi; told us that if you are sexually abused, you should inform your parents or teachers. I decided to tell my mother that I was being abused by my cousin for the past one-and-a-half year,” the girl has written in her statement to the Mumbai Police.
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With over 90 per cent of sexual offences committed by people known to the victim, Mumbai Commissioner of Police Dattatray Padsalgikar earlier this year commenced a drive titled ‘Police didi’, through which women police constables visit schools within their jurisdiction and talk to children on sexual abuse, teaching them about ‘good’ and ‘bad’ touch. The aim behind the drive was to instill confidence in children to report incidents of ‘bad touch’ to their parents or teachers.
“The drive started with a purpose to create awareness among schoolchildren, who often don’t even realise that they are being sexually abused. They need to be educated on ‘bad touch’ and the Police didi aims to become a friend of the students so that they approach us or their parents if they feel somebody is behaving inappropriately with them,” Deputy Commissioner of Police, Zone V, Paramjit Singh Dahiya, said. “Immediately after the girl’s parents lodged a complaint, we got the cousin arrested and he has been booked under Sections of Prevention of Children from Sexual Offence Act (POCSO) and for rape under the Indian Penal Code (IPC),” Dahiya added.
The 10-year-old victim has detailed out her ordeal, stating that on the pretext of unloading goods at their family-run godown, the accused would take her along with him. He would then bolt the godown door and sexually abuse her. The accused allegedly threatened the girl into silence and was abusing her for one-and-half years. “The mother has told us that when she enquired with the victim as to why she did not confide in them earlier, the child said she had been scared by the cousin’s threats,” said a police officer from Sahu Nagar police station, where the case has been registered.
Till November 13 this year, 381 cases of rape of minor girls has been registered, which is two cases less than the figures corresponding to the same period last year. Of the 381 cases, this year, 353 have been detected, the police said.