With 927 incidents of child rapes reported in 2015, Delhi has no doubt become most unsafe for children. According to the latest National Crime Records Bureau data, at least three cases of rape took place every day in 2015, though police and child rights activists agree that the actual number could be much bigger.
With Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act facilitating the registration of complaints, the figures are going up. Among those raped last year, 585 were below the age of 16. Of them, 95% were assaulted by people known to them. Police claimed that almost all the accused were arrested within 24 hours of the incident.
The police, however, add that bringing paedophiles to book isn’t easy. “The number of cases being reported has increased marginally due to the interaction programmes we conducted. But the rate of reporting is still much lower than expected,” said a senior police officer. Many offenders get away because younger children cannot distinguish between an affectionate hug and an embrace loaded with sexual intent.
Even when uneasy, they usually hesitate to complain. In addition, parents themselves rarely approach the police whenever a child opens up to them. On August 23, an eight-year-old girl was kidnapped from outside her house near the Yamuna at Mandawali and raped by three men who had a grudge against her brother. The three were identified by the girl and police hauled them in. A week later, a three-year-old, visiting her uncle’s house in Govindpuri, was ravaged and tortured. On Friday, an 11-month-old infant was raped in Vikaspuri. According to psychiatrist Avdesh Sharma, in almost all cases, the rapist is found to have acted on an impulse. “We have noticed that the accused are people close to the victim, who feel reassured that the proximity to the victims will keep them from reporting the matter. This is a dangerous trend,” said Sharma.
According to the NCRB data, almost all the perpetrators in the 86 cases registered under POCSO Act in 2015 were convicted. The statistics showed that 60.83% of the cases were reported from the poorer sections of society. What is alarming is that around 20% of the criminals involved in sexually abusing children are themselves juveniles.
Of the 7,730 cases of abduction reported in Delhi last year, around 60% were of children. Police said in most of these cases, the children were sexually assaulted. According to the Centre for Child Rights, 53.2% of all children are sexually abused, with 20.9% suffering severe abuse. These go unreported due to the stigma attached to rape. “It is a baffling trend that cannot be addressed by just policing activities,” said the NGO’s Enakshi Ganguli..