Co-Written By Ashish Kumar Singh and Shirin Shabana Khan
2017-18 is witnessing a transition where not only the successful (mostly online) campaign #Me-too is shaking our psyche, but also imprisonment to Larry Nassar up to almost 300 years in different cases is painfully relieving for the majority of us.
India’s attitude towards sexual abuse and child sexual abuse needs an overhaul. A survey participated in by more than 45,000 children in the 12- 18 age group, across 26 states in the country, revealed that one in every two children is a victim of child sexual abuse. Conducted by World Vision India with a sample of 45,844 respondents, the survey also revealed that one in every five do not feel safe because of the fear of being sexually abused. It also found that one in four families do not come forward to report child abuse.
According to the report on crimes in India for 2016, 106,958 cases of crimes against children were recorded in 2016. Of these, 36,022 cases were recorded under POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act. The number of cases registered for child abuse raised from 8,904 in the year 2014 to 14,913 in the year 2015, under the POSCO Act. Sexual offences and kidnapping account for 81% of the crimes against minors. State wise cases under POSCO Act: Uttar Pradesh led the highest number of child abuse cases (3,078) followed by Madhya Pradesh (1,687 cases), Tamil Nadu (1,544 cases), Karnataka (1,480 cases) and Gujarat (1,416 cases).
A report by Human Rights Watch titled “Breaking the Silence: Child Sexual Abuse in India” stated that “While great awareness has been raised about sexual violence against women in India, much less is known about the problem of sexual abuse of children. Studies suggest that more than 7,200 children, including infants, are raped every year; experts believe that many more cases go unreported.” An Indian government-sponsored survey in 2007, based on interviews with 12,500 children in 13 different states, reported serious and widespread sexual abuse, thereby putting the government on notice about the gravity of the problem.
From Jharkhand to Uttar Pradesh:
Life took a serious turn for 15 years old Radha (name changed), when her relatives sold her to a brick kiln owner in Kerakat town in Jaunpur district of Uttar Pradesh on January, 2012. Radha was sexually abused by the brick kiln owner Baju Yadav for more than two months. Radha is a resident of Chakradharpur in Singhbhum district, Jharkhand state of India. In her testimony she said, “I was with my family when a woman called Shanti visited us and told me to come with her. She was from the same village so I trusted her. She said she was going to take me to a fair. But this woman had tricked me and forced me to go to the brick kiln factory. There I had to work for the owner, doing his cooking and cleaning, and also massage him. Two days after I arrived he forced himself on me. He used to give me a tablet, then he would force himself on me. My room was next to where the owner worked and every time he wanted me, he would come to my room. He would come two or three times a day. I told that woman Shanti that I didn’t like it, and she said that “If you tell anyone, the owner will kill you.” One day I opposed it, and the owner beat me up brutally. I was so scared. The brick kiln owner was in his sixties, had no teeth, used to drink a lot, and force me to drink alcohol as well. When I refused, he used to hit me. I’m still in pain from the rapes.”
When Radha reported her ordeal to Shanti Devi, she rebuked Radha and warned against reporting the incident to anyone else. Shanti Devi has been working at Baju Yadav’s brick kiln for the past seven years and also have illicit relation with him. Unable to bear the trauma, on 20 March, 2017 Radha somehow managed to flee from Baju’s brick kiln and reached her relatives ‘s house Palu Devi living in the same village. After that a chain reaction started and resulted in accidental death of Battan Mushahar. The case reached to the People Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR), which helped Radha and Paulo Devi family to flee from hiding place. To ensure safety of the girl and those of her relatives, they had short shelter in PVCHR office. PVCHR took up the case of Radha to National Human Rights Commission, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, National Commission for Women, New Delhi, National Schedule Caste Commission, Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand, SHO- Kerakat, District Magistrate Jaunpur, Superintendent of Police – Jaunpur and filed Right to Information applications asking further details about the case.
Radha, in her interview to human rights watch for the report Breaking the silence Child Sexual abuse in India on says that an improperly conducted medical examination in Varanasi after she was repeatedly raped in February and March 2012 is impeding her legal case. They took her to the police and to a hospital, where a doctor carried out a medico-legal “two-finger test.”
On the basis of this degrading and unscientific test, the doctor stated that Radha had not been raped. As a result, the police have refused to listen to her complaint and investigate the man she said had raped her repeatedly.
Radha, with the support of PVCHR, is challenged the doctor’s findings. In September 2012 the police in her home district in Jharkhand agreed that Radha’s testimony could form the basis of a charge against her alleged assailant. After intervention FIR was lodged against Shanti Jamuda (ii) Baiju Yadav in crime no. 135/2012 u/s 372/ 374/376/34 IPC and 3(3)(6) SC/ST Act against Shanti Jamuda (ii) Baiju Yadav. The case after investigation had been submitted to the court for trial. A case u/s 304A IPC was registered at crime no. 136/2012 at PS Kairakat on 21.03.2012 against Bejnath, Rajmath, Gulab and Dinesh. In which charge sheet was submitted on 09.05.2012 and the matter is sub judice in court The IGP Varanasi had submitted report to NHRC dated 20.02.2017. DIG Zone got the enquiry conducted through SP Jaunpur and Additional SP Rural report had been submitted. According to the report, there are allegations that Ms. Radha Jamuda d/o Saluda was kept bonded by brick kiln owner Baiju Yadav. She was sexually exploitated. However these allegations were over looked by SI Sabhajeet Singh, HC Satya Dev Srivastava and Gurdip Singh Sarna, the then Inspector Kherakat. Km. Radha was not examined, they tried to conceal the offence and committed breach of duty.
The enquiry officer found HC Satya Dev Srivastava, SI Sabhajeet Singh and Inspector Gurdip Singh Sarna guilty of delriction of duty and for not registering the case under the relevant provision of law and case under 166A IPC had been registered against the police officers. Commission had considered the report. There are facts in the report dated 20.02.2017 submitted by IGP Varanasi report dated 20.02.2017 that a complaint was lodged by Surender s/o Sehli r/o Triyani, PS Kairakat, District Jaunpur, regarding the death of his son Bunti in accident of tractor on 21.03.2012 and case no. 136.2012 u/s 304A IPC was registered against the Bejnath, Rajmath, Gulab and Dinesh in which charge sheet was submitted. On the report of Additional SP Jaunpur, the same is under reinvestigation u/s 173(8) Cr.P.C. Commission has considered the report of IGP Varanasi. The complainant allegation are in respect of sexual exploitation of Km. Radha d/o Saluka Jamuda r/o West Singhbhum District, Jharkhand by brick kiln owner Mr. Baiju Yadav. How the case instituted on the report of Surender against Bejnath and others is connected with the complaint in question, needs clarification. Commission directs IGP Varanasi Zone to submit the typed legible duly authenticated copy of FIR of crime no. 136/2012 u/s 304A IPC instituted at PS Kairakot, Jaunpur and the chargesheet filed in that case to this Commission urgently through special messenger in sealed cover within two weeks.
The Hon’ble Member in the Case No. 8542/24/39/2012 has directed on 3.11.2017 as under : – “Case Crime No.429/17 under section 166A IPC has been registered against Gurdeep Singh Sarna, the then SHO Kerakat, Jaunpur, SI Sabhajeet Singh and Chief Constable Satyadev Srivastava which is under investigation and directions have been issued to conclude the same on merits expeditiously. It is stated that in case of the victim of rape Radha case crime No.135/12 u/s 372/374/376/34 IPC r/w Section 3(3)(6) SC/ST Act has been filed against Shanti Jamuda w/o late Godo Jamuda and Baiju Yadav s/o Sahdev Yadav. After the investigation, charge-sheet has been filed in the court. Vide report dated 12.9.2017 it has been stated that 25% of Rs. 1,00,000/- (compensation under SC/ST(PoA) Act) has been paid to the victim vide cheque No.581748 dated 16.8.2017. The Commission has taken a very serious view of the matter. Despite the directions by the Commission to pay a compensation of Rs. 1,00,000/- vide its proceedings dated 26.12.2016 no proof of payment has been received till date. Let a reminder be issued to the Chief Secretary, Government of UP to pay a sum of Rs. 1,00,000/- on account of compensation to the victim Radha and submit the proof of payment within four weeks. The Chief Secretary, UP be also asked to submit as to i) why the compensation as provided under rule 11 & 12 of the SC/ST (POA) Act amounting to Rs. 1,80,000/- (50% of the amount to be paid at the time of medical examination) has not been paid. ii) why compensation under rule 21 of the SC/ST (POA) Act (full cost of education and maintenance of the child, provision of utensils, rice, etc. for three months) has not been paid to the victim. He is also directed to send The progress of Enquiry dated 15.11.2013 against the erring official, pending before the administration and status of the investigation of Case Crime No.429/17 within four weeks.” The Commission perused the record and observed that in Case No. 8542/24/39/2012 monetary compensation has already been recommended by the Commission. Therefore, there is no justification for continuing with this case i.e. Case No. 1405/34/18/2013-WC. Therefore, the case No. 1405/34/18/2013-WC is closed.
Despite commitments and laws in place to ensure the protection of children, the rulers of independent India have not succeeded to generate effective oversight mechanisms that could prevent much of the child sexual abuse from taking place. Existing schemes, and departments, courts, local government administrations, children’s institutional care facilities, schools, and doctors, are simply not doing enough to help victims after sexual abuse has been identified, or to ensure that perpetrators are punished. There is a clear need to sensitize the population towards such issues. Cases such as of Radha, and the overall treatment of it, are as Dr. Lenin Raghuvanshi puts it “clear examples of the failure of the criminal justice system and mechanism for elimination of trafficking and rape. Hegemonic masculinity based on patriarchy and caste system is haunting society and contributing for negative conflict, impunity, and injustice.”
(Ashish Kumar Singh is a Doctoral Candidate at Higher School of Economics- National Research University, Moscow. He can be contacted at – email@example.com.
Shirin Shabana Khan is the Program Director, People’s Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR), India. She can be contacted at – firstname.lastname@example.org)