Sexual abuse of children often occurs in places considered safest by their parents. In sexual offences against minor girls, 95 per cent of the crimes are committed by known persons, mostly neighbours, relatives, and friends. This information has emerged out of data released by the National Crimes Record Bureau.
A senior police officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, said changing social relationships, changing psychology owing to the influence of social media and increased consumption of alcohol are the reasons behind the increasing number of sexual assaults on children.
Despite various laws for the protection of children in the country, the girl child is most vulnerable in and around her home, especially after dark. Going by the number of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act cases pending in the country, it will take at least a decade for victims to get justice, said women’s rights activist K. Padma.
A forum of legal professionals has strongly disapproved of the recent ordinance moved by the Centre, proposing the death penalty for convicted rapists who assault children below 12.
A senior advocate said if a child is raped the perpetrator will try to erase evidence by killing the victim, in case he is caught after the crime. The punishment for the accused must be swift and harsh, with a maximum sentence of up to 20 years, he added. Other legal professionals of the forum have said if the death penalty is prescribed, the victim may be coaxed or coerced into staying silent about the perpetrator, who could be her father, brother or relative, and the accused has every chance of going scot-free.