The number of children getting raped has shot up in the last few years. This dark reality has been revealed from the figures released by the Centre on August 7.
Union Minister of Women and Child Development, Maneka Gandhi, told Lok Sabha that a total of 8,541 cases (in the year 2012), 12,363 cases (2013) and 13,766 cases (2014) of child rape were reported.
The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) has started collecting data under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act since 2014. As per available data, a total of 8,904 cases were registered under the Act during 2014. Sections 28, 32, 33, 35, 36 and 37 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act provide safeguards for protecting the children at every stage of judicial processes by incorporating child-friendly mechanisms for speedy trial of offences in designated special courts. However, child rights activists have been expressing concern over the lengthy legal process in such cases.
The process of disposing these cases is very slow. According to child rights activist and lawyer Gaurav Bansal, "In Delhi alone there are over 2,500 cases under the POCSO Act. The national data will be huge. The status of trial of these cases of child rape is really worrisome. In the past one year only 12 cases have been disposed out of a total of 200 cases that were registered". "
This shows a lack of concern in the country towards safety of children. There is a lack of gender sensitization and awareness among the people. Children are generally raped by those who are either their relatives or who win over their trust.
There have been several cases in which the father raped the daughter or the uncle was the culprit," Bansal said. "There is an urgent need to create awareness among public, teachers and parents about provisions of the POSCO Act. Sex education should be made compulsory, with focus on educating what constitutes abuse. There should be more helplines to report abuse in all major cities, and schools can train the children how to use them," Bansal added.
Meanwhile, doubts have been raised about the justification for an amendment to the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986. As per the amendment, which has been approved by the Union Cabinet, children below the age of 14 cannot be employed in any industry except in family enterprises and the audio-visual entertainment industry.
The amendment also imposes the condition that when so employed, the education of the children must not get affected. But the Centre for Social Research, an organisation working to protect the rights of young girls and women, has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to reconsider this as the amended law will adversely affect the girl child who is often forced into domestic work and may be subjected to sexual abuse.