October 26, 2010

Times of India

Sex after false promise of marriage is rape: Court

MUMBAI: Stating that sexual relationships with a woman on false promise of marriage amounts to rape, a sessions court last week convicted a 20-year-old man for sexually exploiting his colleague. Saying that the accused caused damage to the victim's reputation and left behind a trail of misery, additional sessions Judge SD Bhate sentenced the accused to five years of rigorous imprisonment for rape and cheating.

The victim who was 18 years old at the time of the incident even gave birth to a baby girl as a result of the relationship. Since the accused refused to accept both the victim and the baby, the child was given up for adoption. According to the prosecution, the victim, Sarita (name changed), from Goregaon(E), used to attend night school and worked at a factory owned by her relatives since 2005. The accused, Pawan Harijan, also worked in the same factory. On May 16, 2008, Harijan asked Sarita to come to the factory at night. After reaching the factory, she found Harijan was alone there. When she refused to enter the factory, the accused dragged her inside and locked the door.

Promising to marry her, the accused had sex with her. Over the next month Harijan had sex with the victim several times while promising to marry her. In July 2008, Harijan went to his village in UP, saying that he would return in 15 days. He, however, didn't come back.

Hindustan Times

Crimes against girls on the rise, police claim

The arrests of two teenaged boys allegedly for committing sexual crimes against four-year-old girls last week, are not stray incidents, the Mumbai police claim. Statistics available with the police department say that crimes against minor girls in the city are on the rise.
Until September this year, 115 cases of molestation of girls have been reported. The figure in 2009 was 111

There has also been a rise in cases of outraging the modesty of girls from 14 cases in 2009 to 19 this year, police records claim.

“We suspect there could be many more such instances that don’t make it to the crime registers,” Deven Bharti, additional commissioner of police (crime), said. “Many children are abused and exploited in slums and those instances are seldom reported. But one thing is for sure that such cases are on the rise.”

Madhavi Mhatre, activist with Childline India Foundation, attributed the rise in these cases to sociological factors.

“There are more nuclear families with working parents. Children are left alone at home and are more vulnerable to abuse,” Mhatre said. “In joint families, there was a support structure even when the parents were away.” Snehal Rane from Balprafulta, an organisation working for child rights, said: “Young girls and boys are easy targets because there is a belief that they can be easily controlled. In most cases, the child is too scared to reveal anything about the incident to anyone.”

Dr. Nilima Mehta, former chairperson of the Child Welfare Committee said pressure to survive causes frustration that, in turn, leads to aggressive behaviour. “This aggression is directed towards vulnerable people like children and senior citizens,” she said. “There is also the factor of alienation and anonymity these days when people are not even aware about their next-door neighbours. Earlier, your neighbour’s children were like your children. In certain cases, they are seen as convenient targets.”

Mhatre said the police need to ensure that such cases are investigated properly and punitive action be taken. “Therapeutic treatment for the victim and the accused will help,” she said.

Times of India

Child’s rights violation rampant in India’
50% Schoolkids Interviewed Say They Had Faced Sexual Abuse: Survey

London: In a shocking revelation,more than 50% children interviewed for a survey in India to determine the extent of violence against them said they had faced sexual abuse.In total,12,500 schoolchildren in 13 states between five and 18,as well as otherwise,took part in the research.

The report by Plan International,a childrens organization here,said India has the dubious third rank among 13 countries in terms of estimated economic cost of corporal punishment.Plan calculated that anything between $1.4 billion and $7.4 billion was lost every year in India by way of social benefits because of physical ill-treatment in schools.This is premised on how the larger economy is affected by the impact of such punishment,causing poor pupils attendance and academic performance.Only the US and Brazil suffered greater economic damage in the same sphere.According to Plans findings,corporal punishment is widespread in Indian schools,despite being illegal.More than 65% children,its report claimed,said they had been beaten up.A majority of such victims are in state schools.

The study also discovered that caste and gender discrimination was the major cause of violence against children.It said many students abandoned their studies because of such humiliation,which included hitting with hands or sticks,making them stand in various positions for long hours and tying them to chairs.More boys (54%) than girls (45%) were subjected to corporal punishment.Students in Assam,Mizoram and Uttar Pradesh reported the highest rates of corporal punishment,while Rajasthan and Goa reported the lowest.

Mumbai Mirror

Neglected children sexually abuse siblings

A new study has suggested that kids who are born into families in which abuse, violence and neglect is common are more likely to indulge in sexually abusing other children. The researchers studies boys aged 10 or under who have molested siblings, classmates, or friends.

The study found that the boys were unable to form healthy relationships as a result of neglectful and hostile parenting.

Even before starting school, they were anxious, angry and detached; bed-wetting, nightmares, self-harm and eating problems were common.

By the time they received specialist help they had all perpetrated serious abuse against several children.

The research, conducted in the London-based National Clinical Assessment and Treatment Service, found that the authorities as well as teachers, social workers and doctors, often missed numerous opportunities to intervene.

Colin Hawkes, the study's author, said that professionals often ignore, dismiss or punish early warning signs such as a child exposing himself or talking explicitly about sex because they find it difficult to believe that children are physically or emotionally capable of such things.

The study also found that in a third of the 27 cases in its sample group the birth mother was suspected of sexually abusing her child.

The study asserted that in many cases the abusers copy what adults around them are doing.

They may also be seeking control in response to the cruelty and loneliness of their own lives, while spoiling the life of a "luckier or happier" child.

Researchers were most shocked to find that many of the boys had learnt to groom and target vulnerable children. "This small minority cannot think straight. They have never experienced calm, coherent parenting," the Herald Sun quoted Hawkes as saying.

"By the time we see them they have been spinning through a spiral of thoughts and feelings and sexually harmful behaviours for years. Early intervention is key as the longer you leave it, the more likely these harmful patterns become fixed (in the brain)," he said.
The findings would be published in Child Abuse Review next year.


Beware ! Mess with the kids, and you have had it – Centre brings family members, relatives, teachers etc,. under the ambit of special law to prevent child sex abuse

The government is bringing what could be termed mother of all legislations to protect children (up to the age of 18) from sexual exploitation.

Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Bill (PCSOB), 2010, has been finalised and will most likely be placed before the Union cabinet for clearance next week. It will be tabled in parliament in the winter session. PCSOB will be superior to all other existing provisions of IPC.

The bill, which may soon become a law, expands the definition of incestuous sexual assaults to include, apart from parents and family members, to relatives, teachers, heads of institutions, staff, managers, etc.

It makes persons having knowledge of such attacks - media, hotel where the assault has occurred, hospitals, studios, neighbours, relatives — accountable for reporting the matter to police and proposes punishment otherwise.

“The term incest is seen as limited to relations with father or brother. An attempt has been made to widen its horizon to include all those people who are related to the child in some way,” Bharati Ali of Haq, an NGO for child rights, said. Ali was part of the bill making process.

Getting wiser with the Ruchika Girhotra case, the government has realised that molestation is a mild term. Hence, for the first time, sexual harassment has been made a crime against children too, which will include any sort of misbehaviour with a child done with “sexual intent”.

Uttering a word, or making a sound (like whistling) or a gesture or exhibiting any object or body part with “sexual intent” to attract the attention of a child will be seen as sexual harassment attracting punishment up to three years in jail.

“We have tried to cover all aspects of sexual assault to provide better protection from sexual abuse while stipulating stringent punishment as a deterrent. This will contribute to a sense of security among children and allow them to live with freedom and dignity,” women and child development minister Krishna Tirath said.

The bill proposes innovations such as child-friendly courts and procedures and punishment for not reporting offences and for false complaints and information. In cases where the victim is below 16, the onus of proving that s/he has not committed the offence will be on the accused.
The bill covers all aspects of sexual offences - aggravated, aggravated penetrative, assault by armed and security forces and school authorities. Physically incapacitating a child or causing him/her to become mentally ill, even if temporarily, making a girl pregnant, inflicting HIV/AIDS or any other life-threatening disease or infection that may incapacitate a child will be seen as an aggravated form of sexual assault.

Police officers investigating such cases shall ensure that victims do not come in physical contact with accused and do not see them while testifying. A harsher punishment has been prescribed if offences under the bill are committed by public servants, police officers, security or army officers or persons in position of trust or authority.

However, child rights activists complained the bill does not address the issue of supporting victims and their families. “The intention should not be to define crime and prescribe punishment. In special laws, criminality gets lost and becomes a social issue. The special points in the new law should be incorporated under a special chapter in IPC, which is the Bible for police. New law will further lead to duplication and complication,” Bharati Ali said.

October 19, 2010

Hindustan Times

UP cops target HT for report on minor’s rape

Instead of arresting the alleged rapist of a nine-year-old girl in her school premises where she bled to death, the Kanpur police unleashed its fury on Hindustan Times and its sister publication, Hindi daily Hindustan on Friday night for their unrelenting campaign for justice for Divya Bhadoria.

Divya was allegedly sodomised by the son of the manager of Bharti Gyansthali School on September 27. School authorities did not even take her to a hospital while she bled. They just dropped her dead body at her home.

The police, apparently keen to shield manager Chandrapal Verma's son Piyush Verma, a postgraduate science student, took no action for the 18 days that Hindustan Times and Hindustan reported intensively on the case and generated a public outrage.
But the sustained campaign by the two dailies and mounting public pressure seemed to have compelled the police to finally arrest Piyush Verma for sodomy and murder and send his father to jail for criminal negligence.

But the matter did not end there. Hours after arresting Piyush on Friday, the police descended on the offices of HT and Hindustan.

A police jeep rolled into the premises of the two dailies at 11 pm, followed by policemen from a nearby police station. They detained editorial and non-editorial staff, intimidating them and accusing them of using stolen vehicles.

The posse of 14 policemen, who stayed on till 2.30 am, sealed the premises, preventing distribution of the newspapers.

Mumbai Mirror

HC sets up watchdog for children’s homes

Dr Asha Bajpai to head panel to ensure there is no repeat of what happened at the Kavdas orphanage recently
The court asked Dr Bajpai to choose five members to assist her and, on the suggestion of the state, added that Women and Child Development secretary Vandna Krishna will help her in the selection.

The committee will examine ground realities and working of these homes. It will also form sub-committees to regularly inspect the homes, so that a repeat of what happened at Kavdas does not occur.

In an important development that emerged as an off shoot in the case after the two sexually abused girls were shifted to KEM, the court endorsed a suggestion from Dr Bajpai that paediatric wards of general hospitals should reserve beds for mentally deficient children, and that such children should not be accommodated in the general psychiatric ward.
At last Thursday’s hearing, Dr Bajpai pointed out that it was important to have separate beds for children who suffered trauma and that they should not be kept with adults in the psychiatric ward as it could result in more trauma.

The court considered the suggestion and passed directions on Saturday. The state also submitted that other facilities like Child Protection Units, district welfare officers and other issues will be dealt with within three months.

The division bench of Justice Mohit Shah and Justice D Y Chandrachud asked the Child Welfare Committee and the DWCD about the condition of the other 28 homes. “This is one case that has come to light, but if there are 29 homes across the state, what is the state in the other homes, have you inspected them?” asked the judges.

Interestingly, when questioned about the recommendation given to the Kavdas orphanage, advocate Nitin Pradhan who represents CWC said it was given on an informal letter. “It is important that three committee members visit a home before recommendation is given, but in this case only one member went there and the letter was given innocently. It was not even a proper formal letter,” he said.

Shocked by the response, the court asked how the home even came into being. “There were shops and galas where the children were kept - how can that be done?” asked Justice Chandrachud.

Dr Bajpai further said that the blame game between the nodal agencies should stop, their roles should be clearly defined, and in cases such as Kavdas, they should come together to address the issue.

The CWC-DWCD tiff is evident, as on minor issues like ID cards, the agencies blame each other.
This was clear when it was submitted by the KEM counsel, that if CWC members want to visit girls kept there, they should carry their cards. But CWC members said that the state had not given them ID cards. The state in response said “members have not given their photographs”.

The court has now instructed CWC to find suitable homes for the girls with the help of the amicus curiae and DWCD.
The court also called for the criminal investigation to be speeded up and, more importantly, a women officer be appointed as IO and, if possible, a lady judge should hear the case.

The next hearing is on October 26.

Sunday Times

No virgin territory!

Youngsters these days are under greater pressure to be sexually active very early, says psychiatrist Anjali Chhabria

Teenage sex has become a trend of the new generation as girls and boys have the desire to explore their sexuality at a younger age now-a-days. It could be out of curiosity or because of exposure of western television shows. The general thought pattern of a teen is: I'm a teenager, what's the harm in exploring. Along with there new-found independence, premarital sex is no longer seen as a taboo.

This makes sex education in schools compulsory. Teenagers are aware of masturbation and tools of sexual pleasure before entering college. Because they have access to pornography, sex is treated as a means for gratification rather than an expression of love. That often makes them comfortable with having one-night stands and blind sex dates.

Teenage years are marked with insecurities of the future and teens are critical about themselves and face issues of low self-esteem and low confidence and they are more likely to feel the urge to move out of their homes. It's only as a person matures that he/she looks at bonding, and the need for physical intimacy increases as there is pressured to behave in a 'manly/ womanly' manner.

As a case in point, let's look at a 17-year-old boy who was depressed and claimed that he already had two sexual encounters with girls of his age. His depression resulted from the fact that his present girlfriend had to undergo an abortion. This weakened their relationship and they couldn't even relate to each other any more.

Cases like this highlight the need to address the issue in a mature manner. Teenagers should be taught to act in a more responsible way. And, parents need to be friends with their children at this age rather than taking an authoritative or passive approach. One needs to discuss the pros and cons of irresponsible sexual behaviour.

Parents should teach their children to be assertive and say 'no' to peers, especially when it involves sex, drugs and alcohol. If youngsters are taught that sex should not be viewed as a means of revenge or to prove a point to one's peers, it will help them develop a healthy attitude towards the opposite sex.

Youngsters should be taught that their behaviour should be out of their own will rather than to compete for attention or to be accepted by a peer group.

Parents should assist their teenage children by helping them find appropriate social groups.
Getting teenagers involved in activities that they are passionate about, like reading, music, sports, etc, their energy can be channelise in a more productive manner.

October 11, 2010

Hindustan Times

Early trauma influences adult behaviour, say psychiatrists

Children separated from their mothers or abandoned soon after birth grow up into anxious or depressed adults, said city psychotherapists, confirming recent findings of a study on animal models published in the Journal of Neuroscience. A study on rats carried out by the Tata Institute of Fundamental

Research in Colaba and the University of Toronto suggests that negative experiences in early life changed their brain circuits in a way that increased their vulnerability to stress during adulthood.

“In any individual, the chance of developing psychiatric disorders is a combination of genetic history and life experience,” said Vidita Vaidya, biologist at TIFR. “The individual could either be vulnerable or resilient. Clinical information from children with a history of trauma and neglect indicates that negative experience can contribute to the risk for psychiatric disorders.”

The TIFR study suggests in particular that major changes in the way the serotonin2A receptors function in the brain based on the quality of life experience may be important in determining how experiences changes whether an individual is vulnerable or protected from psychiatric disorders.

“The quality of care one receives in early life changes the extent and manner in which this receptor functions and may be important to the effects of early life in shaping the extent of anxiety in adulthood,” she said.

“Stressful situations in early childhood influence both brain structure and growth. Parents thus need to secure their kids,” said Dayal Mirchandani, a psychiatrist who treats such cases.

The death of a parent early in life or the child getting hospitalised without the parent could also be reasons for stress and anxiety in adulthood. These children could grow into adults with low self-esteem, relationship problems or even confusion about careers.

“Experiences get encoded in the brain before the age of three. Therefore there could be trauma even before language develops,” said Dr Rani Raote, psychotherapist, who has worked with adult patients with early separation. “We assume that memory is what we can write and repeat. But there is implicit memory from images, sounds and sensation that can manifest into various forms in adulthood.”

According to psychiatrists and psychotherapists, stress and trauma in the first four years of brain formation affects the child’s intelligence and emotional stability. During these early years, the child needs active nurturing that makes them more resilient to deal with difficulties in adult life.

However, damage from negative early life experiences can also be repaired or lessened with a responsible support system. The TIFR study showed that some of this could be returned to normal by administering a drug that blocks the serotonin2A receptor.

“Apart from therapy, symptoms can also be managed with the help of loving partners, active nurturing by caregivers over time, sensitive teachers as well as meditation,” said Mirchandani.
Times of India

Soon, a manual for docs, police to handle sexual assault cases

MUMBAI: The state government will shortly bring out a manual specifying the rules that the police and healthcare providers should follow while dealing with victims of sexual violence. This step has been taken to nail culprits who many a time go scot-free owing to faulty procedure of collecting evidence and victims turning hostile.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau, from 1990 to 2008, rape cases have increased by 112% and officials said it was time to have the procedures tighter so that the culprits can, in no way, evade punishment.

Three departments of the state are working in tandem to draw the manual, which will be ready in a month, that will be used to train medical officers and the police in how to be better equipped to build water-tight cases for sexual assault. The home department, the department of medical education and research and the directorate of health services have held a series of meetings and a few more are lined up before the draft is finalized.

A forensic science expert attached with the team emphasized on how hospitals did not have specific format or a list of tests required to ensure proper collection of evidence and that often diluted the cases. "All hospitals do their own things and in the end, sometimes, officials fail to collect the evidence properly," said the expert. However, an official said, the new list would hopefully redefine the ways in which the case details would be recorded so that the transfer of an officer would not hamper the probe.

Police surgeon Dr S M Patil, who is also working on the manual, said the main idea was to bring in uniformity in the way doctors and police handled sexual assault cases. "We are looking to make it easier for victims to lodge their complaints or approach medical officers for help," he said, adding that training of doctors was an important part of the programme.

Human rights and healthcare activists have time and again criticized the methods followed by healthcare providers who concentrate more on collecting forensic evidence and finishing paperwork rather than the need for therapeutic care. But psycho-social help was of utmost importance, said Padma Devasthali, coordinator of Centre for Enquiry into Health and Allied Themes. "Every victim has the right to treatment," she said, criticizing the mechanical approach of doctors while treating patients of assault. Devasthali added that proper counselling at that hour helps many victims make up their mind whether or not to pursue litigation.

The manual is also likely to take a stricter stand on the dilemma of doctors who refuse to treat victims till the latter had lodged a police complaint. "This attitude does intimidate and discourage the victims from pursuing treatment or legal action," said a medical officer from JJ Hospital.

October 8, 2010

Times of India

Suffer the Children

The most shocking part of Delhi's recent case of child abuse over a period of 18 months a school van driver repeatedly drugged, raped and sodomised three children aged between seven and 12 entrusted in his care is the swiftness with which it has been erased from public memory. Distracted by the ongoing violence in Kashmir, and the skeletons falling out of the closet of the CWG, the media seem to have lost interest in the case.

There have been few follow-up stories, barring a couple which said that the police were allegedly reluctant to pursue the case as some senior classmates of the victims, who were accomplices in the crime, are said to belong to so-called 'well-connected' families. Media indifference apart, there appears to be a general public reluctance to confront the entire issue of child abuse, the most repugnant and unforgivable of crimes, more so even than murder or rape. In this particular case, the unspeakable torment that the children suffered went on unnoticed for a year and a half till, finally, a suspicious mother, noticing the strange and withdrawn behaviour of the children, and the marks on their arms where they had been injected with drugs to make them more compliant, told a neighbour who, in turn, alerted the police.

Even as the Catholic church, in Ireland and elsewhere, has been shaken to its roots by the exposure of widespread paedophilia amongst its clergy and subsequent attempts to cover up such incidents in India we seem deliberately to look away from this most shameful of perversions, the corruption of innocence. These things happen in other places; they don't happen here, in our country, in our culture. Mohandas Gandhi's recorded practice of sharing his bed with nubile girls in order to test his ability to overcome physical arousal? That was an experiment in truth, not child abuse, no matter what psychological and emotional effects this may have had on those who were so experimented upon.

Gandhi's experiments with truth while being violative of current norms of child protection, at least as practised in other countries did not constitute paedophilia. But to believe that paedophilia, the physical defilement of children, does not occur in India, or is very rare, would be a dangerous delusion. Reviewing Mira Nair's film, Monsoon Wedding, a Delhi-based film critic took exception to the character who had sexually abused his niece when she was a child, saying that this was an un-Indian anomaly.

As Pinki Virani's unflinching testimony, Bitter Chocolate, reveals, far from being an anomaly, child abuse is horrifyingly common in India. Though the joint family system may have become outmoded, cramped quarters are frequently shared by adults and children, often breeding unhealthy proximity. The practice of leaving children with domestic help increasingly common in a milieu where both husband and wife are working can also lead to abusive practices.

Some commentators have pointed out that the issue of child abuse has been overplayed in the West, with people being coaxed by motivated researchers to concoct false 'memories' of being victims of sexual predation when they were children. But if this most destructive of social diseases has indeed been overplayed in the West, it has been criminally underplayed in India. Sexual abuse apart, India's children are victims of economic necessity which compels them to do hard manual labour, often in hazardous and brutal conditions, in order to survive. India has the Right to Education Act and it has more anti-child labour laws than any other country in the world; it also has the largest number of child workers.

We like to idolise childhood and infancy. But despite all our sentimentalism, Bal Krishna would have a sorry time of it in 21st century India.

Hindustan Times


A boy of Class VIII in Kolkata committed suicide after he was caned by his principal and humiliated in front of schoolmates. The principal was arrested on Monday on charges of suicide abetment but the police within hours changed his offence to ‘assault’. He is out on bail. A 17-year-old girl in Hyderabad endured months of sexual harassment by her 50-year-old school principal who had managed to procure nude pictures of her.

She eventually decided enough was enough and revealed her story to the media in the hope that more did not suffer the same ordeal.

An 11-year-old boy was sodomised by two of his schoolmates in Delhi.

Sexual abuse and corporal punishment are a daily reality for many school students around the country. And they don’t just cause distress — such harassment can have a lifelong psychological, health and educational impact.

“Such incidents can cause trauma and pain that can last for their entire lives,” senior psychiatrist Jitender Nagpal says.

Even children who don’t experience harassment themselves but see such incidents taking place feel unsafe at school, leading to withdrawal and low self-esteem.
“I am worried whenever my son reaches home with a sad face, especially with such reports coming out every day,” said Rinku Singh, whose 12-year-old son attends a reputed school in New Delhi.

The spurt in the number of such incidents shows the government, teachers and administrators need to do more to ensure the safety of children at school.


Recognising the need for stricter laws to combat exploitation in schools, the government is planning to pass the Protection of Children from Sexual Assault Bill, 2010, in Parliament soon.

The Bill gives a broader definition of sexual abuse of children and would make such offences non-bailable. It also covers the abuse inflicted on children through the Internet, another growing concern.

The bill is gender-neutral — a first for sexual abuse — and has been delineated into five categories with differing punishments: sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, penetrative sexual assault, aggravated penetrative sexual assault and sexual harassment.
The draft law also provides for courts that are more oriented towards children to try such cases.

But instituting a law is never enough.
For instance, even though the Supreme Court banned corporal punishment a decade ago, school children are routinely rapped on the knuckles, asked to kneel down or stand for hours, caned and slapped by their teachers.

In 2006, a nodal agency called the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights was set up to look into allegations and cases relating to the safety and development of children. But few know of its existence.

A new law to prevent sexual exploitation of children will face implementational challenges such as how to make a six-year-old child complain about her abuse, or even realise she is facing abuse.


Raising the awareness of children about sexual harassment and educating them on this are things that schools need to work on.

“Laws come into effect only when the case has surfaced and it does not provide for a preventive mechanism. Also there is a lack of transparency on what happens in our schools, for which we should have an autonomous authority or an independent person from the local child development office to be present in the school, to hear the problems faced by the children,” says P.S. Sharda, a lawyer and child rights activist.

Schools say they are working on this issue.
“We regularly send circulars to our teachers to sensitise them on corporal punishment and have initiated a process which tries to see signs of agony or distress in our children and act accordingly,” says Lata Vaidyanathan, principal of Modern School, Delhi.

She adds that a counselling cell and an active parent-teacher association are also there to address such issues.

Parents feel schools need to involve them to a greater extent to curb the menace.
“The only way to stop such incidents is to give adequate representation to parents in the school management. There is also a need for a more proactive counselling department talking not just to the children but with the parents and teachers as well,” says Ashok Agarwal, president of the All India Parents Association.

“The safety of the child can be ensured only if there is harmony between the natural surrounding of the school, i.e. its infrastructure, method of study and the emotional development of the child which is generally forgotten,” says Nagpal. “This is the need of the hour.”