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Rape Roko: Against child sexual abuse

As instances of sexual abuse multiply by the minute, campaigns across the country are also gaining their momentum. The undeterred goal for all remains the same—to create a city that nurtures its citizen’s safety, write Abhay Singh and Sayantan Ghosh.

January 30, 2018—the news that day shook the Capital. An eight-month-old baby was allegedly raped by her 28-year-old cousin in Delhi. The man, reportedly the first cousin of the child, resided in the same building. The incident consequently sparked widespread agitation and protest. At the outset, the Delhi Commission for Women announced a campaign and protest titled 'Rape Roko'. Campaigns against rape demanding women's safety are not new in India, but, this campaign was different. The primary emphasis of the 'Rape Roko' campaign was its stance against child sexual offenders.



Launch of the campaign
Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) chief Swati Maliwal launched a nationwide campaign with the support of students protesting against child sexual violence. A march was taken out by a group of students from the Vishwavidyalaya Metro Station up to the Arts Faculty enclave as a part of the campaign 'Rape Roko'. Subsequently, a website http://www.raperoko.org was also launched. People have been requested to drop a missed call on 9313-181-181 to join the campaign.
Maliwal, who has been on a 'Satyagraha' demanding death penalty for those who rape children, appealed to people across religions, castes and ideologies to proactively participate in this movement.
"In order to urge the Government to meet our demand, I have launched a 'Satyagraha' from January 31, 2018. I have pledged to not return home until March 8 – International Women's Day. Until then, the Delhi Commission for Women shall remain open 24*7 and I will work thrice the amount," Maliwal wrote on the website.
Campaign Goals
Talking about the campaign to Millennium Post, Maliwal said, "The girl has gone through immense pain, her internal organs have been damaged. They will take a long time to heal. She is so small. It is horrific what she's undergone." She added that, there should be a strict law for perpetrators of child rape, under which they should be granted death sentence within six months.
As a part of its month-long anti-rape campaign 'Rape Roko,' the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) reached out to school children as well as women from unauthorised colonies and slums. Students from various educational institutions, including Delhi University, have joined this campaign, which was launched by DCW chief Swati Maliwal to protest against the various incidences of sexual harassment. "Our teams are taking the campaign to various places—including important markets, shopping malls and crowded places, such as Connaught Place, Hauz Khas Village, among others," said an official, adding that teams are also undertaking a signature campaign. The DCW chief, along with the core group, visited the unauthorised colonies and slums of the city, as well as Delhi government schools to interact with the children. "We think that children should be informed on a priority basis, as the trend suggests—children are the worst victims of such incidents. The general enlightenment on sexual harassment is absent in our system," said an official.
She added that: "Our campaign or target is not gender-biased and we think that the same kind of enlightenment is also needed for the boys."


"We are also talking with the boys across schools and informing them of the different issues. The general practice of sex education with a child-centric emphasis can prevent such heinous acts," she further said. The Commission now plans to take the campaign to the streets of Delhi through nukkad nataks (street plays). According to DCW, the street plays will be conducted until March 8, to raise awareness among the people and influence them to join the movement to fight sexual crimes against women and children. "After the nukkad natak is performed, volunteers of the 'Rape Roko' campaign will speak to the crowd and discuss with them the different demands emerging from the movement," an official said.
Maliwal said, "Real change will occur when the government and the society awaken against the rampant evil of crimes against women and children. The nukkad nataks are a great way of reaching out to people and raising awareness. We should no longer remain quiet. When people throng the streets on March 8, change is bound to happen."
DCW urges MPs to join 'Rape Roko' movement
DCW wrote to all Members of Parliament urging them to join the 'Rape Roko' movement to ensure stringent punishment for those convicted of raping minors. In a letter to the MPs, DCW chairperson Swati Maliwal said, "...An eight-month-old infant was raped in the Capital recently by a 28-year-old. Every day, hundreds of children are sexually abused in the country. Presently, there is complete lack of deterrence against sexual crimes. Therefore, we, the DCW, are demanding that a robust criminal justice system is set up in the country which ensures that the cases of sexual crimes against women and children are tried within six months and child rapists are sentences with the death penalty."
'Rape Roko' spreads to the US
The 'Rape Roko' campaign, initiated by the DCW, has spread across the globe, with Indians residing in the US cities voicing their unambiguous support for the movement. "The campaign has now gained an international repute. Many people across the world are coming out to voluntarily support this campaign. People across the world can be seen holding placards supporting the 'Rape Roko' campaign," said a DCW official. Many people from across the world have expressed their support to the campaign, running signature campaigns in cities across the world and spreading awareness through social media and on the ground. People in Dallas, San Francisco and other cities across the US have conducted a signature campaign and contacted their friends and relatives in India to seek support for the campaign and sign the letter that is scheduled to reach the Prime Minister soon.
DCW chief Swati Maliwal said, "I am overwhelmed to receive such an enormous response from across the world to support the cause. It is each person's battle and everyone must extend their support. We request everyone, whether living in India or abroad, to sign the petition to the Prime Minister and spread the movement."
Women's safety in the Capital: A looming concern
The first month of New Year 2018 witnessed more than 250 cases related to crime against women (CAW) in the national capital. Delhi Police claimed that they have arrested more than 290 accused in the cases. The Delhi Police data accessed by Millennium Post (till January 31) claimed that more than 100 cases of rape were registered in January in which 90 cases were worked out and 108 people were arrested in this regard. In the year 2017, more than 140 cases were reported in the same month and 118 persons had been nabbed. The number of cases regarding the assault on women with the intent to outrage her modesty stood at 132 this January. Police worked out more than 100 cases in this regard and arrested 132 accused.
The data further claimed that around 20 cases were registered under section 509 IPC (insult to the modesty of women) in which 18 cases were worked out and 20 persons were arrested. More than 10 cases of kidnapping of women were registered with the city police wherein 14 persons were nabbed. Five persons were arrested for the abduction of women whereas cases under 498-A/ 498 IPC (cruelty by husband and in-laws) were five in which three were worked out and five persons were nabbed.
Modern society is still plagued by Dowry as the Delhi Police data claimed that 10 cases were reported under section Dowry death (304B) of IPC in January in which nine cases were solved and 10 persons were arrested in this regard.
According to Delhi Police data around 2049 rape cases were reported in the year 2017 and the investigation in the rape cases revealed that 38.99 per cent of the accused were friends or family friends whereas the involvement of neighbours in the rape was 19.08 per cent. Relatives were also found in the involvement of rape cases as their percentage share stood at 14.2.
The data further claimed that in 3.86 per cent of the cases employers or co-workers were involved whereas in 20.50 per cent of the cases other known persons have committed the incident. Police further claimed that the involvement of strangers in cases of rape in Delhi has shown a decline from 3.57 per cent in 2016 to 3.37 per cent in 2017. In almost 96 per cent of rape cases which were registered in 2017, the accused persons were known to the survivor – claimed the Delhi Police data.
Proactive initiatives undertaken by the Delhi Police has contributed towards a reduction in the crimes against women, which has shown a healthy downward trend over the years. Compared to 2016, the figures pertaining to crime against women in 2017 displayed a reduction. The data shows that cases of rape reduced by 0.73 per cent, molestation of women by 18.88 per cent and insult to the modesty of women by 30.54 per cent.
As each day passes the question of women's safety in the capital is gaining more currency. From the rape of an eight-month old baby to that of an 80-year old woman—the Capital has witnessed it all. The students, people, and the organisations with the government are fighting each moment to raise their voices against such horrific incidents. They all cry out the same wish: to create a city that is safe for all.

ABHAY SINGH and SAYANTAN GHOSH

ABHAY SINGH and SAYANTAN GHOSH

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