No country for its own children: Only constant vigilance and swift action can stop child rapes in India
Human Rights Law Network expresses its concern over the recent and increasingly distressing slew of child sexual abuse cases in the country.
In the most recent instance, on August 6, 24 girls were rescued from a shelter home in Uttar Pradesh’s Deoria. They were being peddled as part of a sex racket being operated from the shelter’s premises by the couple that ran it. 18 girls from the shelter are still missing.
Merely days before this, on August 1, 11 minor girls were rescued from sex traffickers in Telangana’s Bhongir district. Some of these girls were as young as 5; four of them were 7, and the traffickers had allegedly been injecting them with sex hormones to speed up their puberty so they too could be pushed into the flesh trade.
And before this was the Bihar exposé that jolted the country. At the end of the May, we found that more than 30 girls in an NGO-run shelter home in Muzaffarpur were being systematically confined, tortured, raped and being exploited as sex slaves.
Earlier this year, while passing directions for the implementation of the provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 – an HRLN case – a Supreme Court bench had said, “It is said that children are the future of the country and if they are not looked after, it is the future of the country that is at stake”.
It is a dark time for a nation when its children are preyed upon by and peddled to adults who were supposed to keep them safe. It is especially appalling to witness the political mud-slinging matches that these incidences are (as always) being reduced to. We need to acknowledge and, more importantly, address this plague of violence that targets the softest, most vulnerable demographic in a society: its children.
It is heartbreaking to note that these events are, by no means, isolated or new. If anything, we owe the spate of recent news reports to the efforts of the TISS team that, through its audit on Bihar shelters, brought things to a tipping point. We’ve seen this happen before in the increased reportage of watershed cases such as the Nirbhaya or Kathua rapes. This just goes to show that momentary outrage is never the answer.
Instead, what we need is constant vigilance, regular probes and swift dispensation of justice. What we need is proper sensitisation and screening of officials and groups that are entrusted with the important job of sheltering our children. What we need is for authorities at each level of governance, from local to federal, to be truly invested in the welfare of the people they govern. We need them to not avert their eyes, as has been alleged in the Bihar and the UP cases -- or worse, be complicit in these crimes.
We, at HRLN, condemn these acts in the strongest possible manner. Our criminal justice and child rights initiatives work to address rights violations across the country. We will continue our efforts – but need help from you, our friends, so we can reach more people.
If you have a tip, or any information about a human rights violation, please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and our team, that is spread across 24 states, will act on it. We also encourage you to share this message with your friends so we can strengthen our network and do better.