January 21, 2010

Jan 2nd, 2010

One out of every three girls in Mumbai is molested:

It is a commendable fact that Ruchika’s family did not give up even after so many years,” said Pooja Taparia, founder and CEO of Arpan, an NGO working on the issue of child sexual abuse.

“Unfortunately, many such cases go unreported.”

“We find very few complaints being lodged, and hardly any action being taken against the perpetrators,” said Taparia, attributing this to the fact that there are “no specific and stringent laws” to tackle the issue of child sexual abuse or even molestation.

“On one end of the spectrum is section 509, which deals with outraging a woman’s modesty and on the other is section 376, which defines punishment for rape. However, there are several other issues ‘in-between’ which neither addresses,” said Taparia.

Pushpa Venkatraman, who has counselled several adult survivors of sexual abuse, agreed. “Issues like touching, non-contact offences like lewd glances, talking furtively, as well as sending obscene MMS clippings, which are happening more and more often now, are not addressed,” said Venkatraman.

“As far as molestation cases are concerned, people either get away on bail, or it takes years for the hearing to come up, or a person can do an out of court settlement very easily,” said Taparia. “Speedy justice, speedy trials, friendly environment for the victim are the need of the hour,” she said.

However, at the bottom of all this, said social activists, is the patriarchal Indian society.

“Many a times, the abuse is done by a known person. In such cases, protecting family honour becomes more important,” said therapist Rita D’Souza.

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