About seven years ago on the night of December 16, 2012, the brutal gangrape of a paramedical student by six men on a moving bus in the national capital Delhi shook the nation for the sheer brutality and torture inflicted on the hapless girl.
The horrific incident followed by large public protests has led to a great deal of soul searching about the problem of sexual violence in India. Politicians, lawyers, women’s rights activists, and an independent government-appointed commission have all made proposals for new laws, police reform, and public education. Even seeing the massive anger against the heinous crime, the government was forced to set up a three-member committee to suggest changes in the anti-rape laws.
Asifa’s case is not too old to forget. An 8-year-old minor girl was brutally raped and murdered in Rasana village near Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir. This heinous crime too sparked widespread outrage all over the country.
Expressing concern about violence against women after the New Delhi rape, Louis-Georges Arsenault, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) representative to India, said that “too many of these cases are children.”
The then government had promised action and great awareness has been raised about sexual violence against women and children in India. However, the result nowhere is seen. Why are the government and administration so careless regarding this very sensitive matter?
The data collated by the Supreme Court once more is shocking to the entire nation and shows how our morality social values have declined to the lowest extent. As per SC, 24,212 FIRs have been registered from January 1, 2019, to June 30, 2019, regarding Child Rape. Out of the same only, 911 cases have been disposed off. This is 4 per cent of the total. Uttar Pradesh has the highest number of FIRs registered at 3,457 and it has only disposed of 22 FIRs which is a minuscule 3 per cent of the total FIRs registered.
The data compiled by the Supreme Court Registry suggest, if one thinks, that 4,000 children are rapped every month, 130 every day and one child is sexually abused each five in our country. How ironical and shameful it is! It presents a gloomy picture of our judicial system that how child rape victims have to wait for years to get justice.
The survey indicated that out of the 24,212 FIRS of child rape cases registered under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act 2012, about 48 per cent cases (11,081) are under investigation.
The exercise undertaken by the apex court could set the ball rolling for a major overhaul in the justice system, paving the way for path-breaking criminal reforms in child rape cases.
There is no use in decrying media exposure when our own justice system, our law-and-order machinery and, most importantly our moral value systems are in a terminal decline.
It is high time that the top court issued orders for more courts and special POCSO court to handle the backlog of cases. They must also ask the public to create awareness campaigns not only to stem such rising crime rates but also to encourage the victims to register FIRS, which in some cases they are pressurised to withdraw or prevented from doing so.
By Faheem Usmani Qasmi
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)