Millennium Post

Safeguarding children

Safeguarding children

Crimes against children, no matter how obnoxious it sounds, have been a pertinent ordeal of the society. Irrespective of the progressiveness that we experience, the crime rates enforce us to cut a disappointed face with the realisation seeping in that if we can not even protect our children, then what is this world that we have progressed to? When one bifurcates these crimes against children, sexual offences is one which leaves a ghastly impression! Using artificial hormones to have children attain early sexual maturity for the purpose of penetrative sexual assault is something to note. Not only do these horrific acts leave the child scarred but they destroy the entire fabric of childhood. It is just as murdering a child from the inside. And, if all did not exasperate you then to realise that a maximum number of perpetrators are known to the victims and how they callously misuse their position of trust for their sexual gratifications will do the rest. The disgusting outlook of this is sadly the reality of our society today. What is more concerning is the multiplier effect of this reality. While this is an omnipresent ordeal, Delhi alone witnessed an almost double in the number of such cases in 2018. So when we see the graphs rising, we believe that either our laws are not being implemented or maybe they are not strong deterrents. But the rise did not happen overnight. Neither did this repugnant level of human behaviour. These have been prevalent in the little spheres of everyone's lives. #MeToo was not a movement because of recent misbehaviours or reported cases, it was an outburst due to the years of compounding misogyny. And so, it must be simply put that we have now arrived, or still have not, to a stage where the stark reality is uncovered. The number of cases has not risen but they have simply reached the public eye. Much of it can be credited to the ever-increasing awareness of the society coupled with stricter laws and increased and efficient implementation. But the barbaric act of raping a child or mutilating them is simply unacceptable. The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 was enacted to provide a robust legal framework for the protection of children from offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography, while safeguarding the interest of the child at every stage of the judicial process. Interestingly, according to the Delhi Police data, 2012 had a solitary case reported under this act while the successive years of 2013, 2014, 2015 showed fluctuating figures of 136, 107, 86 till 2017 which had 88 reported cases and 95 arrests made under POCSO. While the figure in itself was disturbing, it doubled in a matter of an year to 165 reported cases against which 144 arrests were made in 2018. That is a staggering rise. It also denotes that the laws have failed to reach the culprit's head. They have failed to create the deterrence that they were drafted for. But the awareness spree that got a major boost since the 2012 Delhi gang-rape incident has encouraged a lot of victims to come out and report crimes against minors. While Delhi Police is on its toes to book the offenders under POCSO, their schemes such as 'Pehchaan Kaun' and 'Parivartan' aim to spread the message of children's safety through female officers. But, nevertheless, these instances just keep happening and morning dailies make us rethink the society we live in. The inherent vulnerability of children is capitalised upon by the devil in disguise being in their proximity. The only way to curb this is to eradicate the sense of impunity which fuels the perpetrator's confidence. The recently passed amendments to the POCSO Act are a crucial step in strengthening the deterrence. A death penalty for committing aggravated penetrative sexual assault on a child along with a fine and incarceration for distributing, possessing, recording child pornography are some measures in the right direction. The bill should no doubt be passed keeping the security of children in mind. However, the rising instance of crimes in the capital, and even in general, demand a proactive approach in safeguarding our children for which improving the existing laws is not enough. We need more awareness, proactive police, fast-track courts – all of which are majorly discussed solutions. School programmes and parental supervisions can only do so much. Yet, we witness instances where a closed relative molested a minor. The mind behind these acts must be approached and the mindset must change. Only then can such barbaric acts be curbed and society can truly progress. Recidivism must be brought down and deterrence must hang like a sword over the heads of people before they even think of victimising a minor. Only then can we safeguard our children!

Editorial

Editorial

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