It was indeed painful to read an article titled ‘Rapes are shredding India’s social fabric’ recently in a foreign publication-in this case, Gulf News: “When parliament in India begins to politicise the issue of women’s safety, and the proceedings of the house are adjourned as a consequence, it is a sign that the country’s moral and social fabric is being torn to shreds by the very people who have been chosen to. Politicians have lost the capability to see eye-to-eye and tackle the issue of rape —a disease that imperils the safety and security of women, irrespective of their age — with a unified voice”.
It was even more disturbing to read a report of Asian Centre for Human Rights that there have been 48,338 child rape cases from 2001 to 2011 with 336% increase of child rape cases from 2001 to 2011. These are only the tip of the iceberg as the large majority of child rape cases are not reported to the police while children regularly become victims of other forms of sexual assault too.
ACHR in its report, “India’s Hell Holes: Child Sexual Assault in Juvenile Justice Homes” stated that sexual offences against children in India have reached an epidemic proportion and a large number of them are being committed in the juvenile justice homes run and aided by the Government of India. The report has been submitted in advance to the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, Ms Rashida Manjoo who is conducting an official visit to India from 22 April to 1 May 2013 while ACHR is scheduled to meet the Rapporteur on 23 April 2013.
Among the states, Madhya Pradesh recorded the highest number of child rape cases with 9,465 cases from 2011 to 2011; followed by Maharashtra with 6,868 cases; Uttar Pradesh with 5,949 cases; Andhra Pradesh with 3,977 cases; Chhattisgarh with 3,688 cases; Delhi with 2,909 cases; Rajasthan with 2,776 cases; Kerala with 2,101 cases; Tamil Nadu with 1,486 cases; Haryana with 1,081 cases; Punjab with 1,068 cases; Gujarat with 999 cases; West Bengal with 744 cases; Odisha with 736 cases; Karnataka with 719 cases; Himachal Pradesh with 571 cases; Bihar with 519 cases; Tripura with 457 cases; Meghalaya with 452 cases; Assam with 316 cases; Jharkhand with 218 cases; Mizoram with 217 cases; Goa with 194 cases; Uttarakhand with 152 cases; Chandigarh with 135 cases; Sikkim with 113 cases; Manipur with 98 cases; Arunachal Pradesh with 93 cases; Jammu and Kashmir with 69 cases; Andanam and Nicobar Island with 65 cases; Puducherry with 41 cases; Nagaland with 38 cases; Dadra and Nagar Haveli with 15 cases; and Daman and Diu with 9 cases.
Many of the child rape cases take place in juvenile justice homes established under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 and by the end of financial year 2011-2012, about 733 juvenile justice homes were fully supported by the Government of India under the Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) of the Ministry of Women and Child Development. Meanwhile, instances of rape and unspeakable indignities heaped upon women, and girls, continue to be unraveled on a daily basis.
After all has been said and done to protect the interests of women in India, it is shocking to see that governmental institutions have failed to show sensitivity in tackling the issue of rape. Police high-handedness, coupled with negligence and apathy is now the order of the day. The home ministry appears to be totally out of its depth as rapes are being recorded with unerring regularity across the country. Victims are being treated as culprits and this has rendered the revision of laws, enforcement of fasttrack courts and improved policing null and void.
Will the unprecedented public reaction to the horrific rapes in India, whose historic capital is particularly becoming notorious for, finally wake the government to speedily institute and ensure implementation of long overdue overhaul/reforms.
The author is the Editor of Wordsword Features