October 31, 2011


Times of India

5K kids sexually abused in ’10

1,408 Children Killed In Country Last Yr: Govt Report

New Delhi: As many as 5,484 children were sexually assaulted and 1,408 others killed in different parts of the country last year, according to a government report.

Giving a gloomy picture of treatment of children in the country, the latest National Crime Records Bureau data also says that 10,670 children were kidnapped or abducted during the year in various states and Union Territories.

Uttar Pradesh topped the list of child murders with 315 cases. In Madhya Pradesh the highest number of children faced sexual assault with the number of cases standing at 1,182 for the same period.

Maharastra had 211 cases of child murders with another 200 such cases in Bihar and 124 victims in Madhya Pradesh, the NCRB data reveals. In the last year, Maharashtra had 747 cases of child sexual assault, Uttar Pradesh had 451 and Andhra Pradesh recorded 446 such cases. Similarly, Chattisgarh recorded 382 such cases with Rajasthan close at its heels with 369 such incidents reported.

In Delhi, 29 children were murdered and 304 others were raped in 2010.
The national capital has reported the highest number of kidnapping of children in the country— 2,982, followed by Bihar (1,359), Uttar Pradesh (1,225), Maharashtra (749), Rajasthan (706), Andhra Pradesh (581) and Gujarat (565). AGENCIES

Sexual exploitation of minor girls up by 186%

New Delhi: An increasing number of children, particularly minor girls, are being trafficked for sexual exploitation, according to the National Crime Records Bureau data.

Cases of sexual exploitation of minor girls jumped from 237 in 2009 to 679 in 2010, a 186.5% increase. West Bengal reported 200 cases, followed by Bihar (152).

While crime against children went up by 10%, the corresponding figure for women stood at 4.8%. A total of 26,694 cases of crime against kids were reported in 2010, up from 24,201 cases in 2009. While MP (4,912) accounted for 18.4% of the cases, Delhi recorded 3,630 incidents (13.6%). Only 100 cases of infanticide and 111 cases of foeticide were reported last year, indicating social suppression of the problem.

The NCRB data found that Delhi accounted for 16% of the crime reported against women, followed by Hyderabad among 35 cities with over 10 lakh population.

Of the 2.13 lakh crimes against women in 2010, Andhra topped with 27,244 cases, or 12.8%, while Tripura had the highest rate of crime against women at 46.5%. Women were troubled most by domestic violence: as many as 94,041 cases were reported, an increase of 5%.


5K kids faced sex assaults last year

The latest NCRB ( National Crimes Records Bureau) data about crimes committed against children paints a gloomy picture. As many as 5484 children were sexually assaulted, 1408 were killed in various parts of the country last year.

Sexual assaults OF CHILDREN

Maharashtra : 747
UP : 451
AP : 446
DELHI : 304 raped & 29 MURDERED
M.P : 1182 raped and 124 KILLED

October 30, 2011



Supreme court rules, no corroboration required in rape cases

The Supreme Court has ruled that in rape cases there was no need for corroboration and conviction can be imposed on the sole statement of the victim as her testimony cannot be looked at with suspicion.

"It is a trite law that a woman, who is the victim of sexual assault, is not an accomplice to the crime but is a victim of another person's lust. The prosecutrix stands at a higher pedestal than an injured witness as she suffers from emotional injury. Therefore, her evidence need not be tested with the same amount of suspicion as that of an accomplice. The Indian Evidence Act nowhere says that her evidence cannot be accepted unless it is corroborated in material particulars," the apex court said.

A bench of justices P Sathasivam and B S Chauhan passed the ruling while dismissing an appeal filed by Mohd Imran Khan and Jamal Ahmed challenging their conviction for rape of a minor girl about 22 years ago. The defence had argued the victim's statement cannot be relied upon as she had eloped with the accused.


Hindustan Times

Rape victim's sexual history not relevant

n a significant move, the state government has directed government doctors who conduct medical examinations of rape victims to do away with the practice of noting whether the victim is habituated to sexual intercourse. The move is aimed at extending sensitive treatment to victims of rape and sexual assault and will be reflected in the manual referred to by doctors while examining victims.

An eight-member state-appointed committee headed by Dr SD Nanandkar, head of forensic medicine department, JJ Hospital, revised the manual after considering suggestions given by the non-governmental organisation, Centre for Enquiry into Health and Allied Themes (CEHAT). The directive is part of other modifications to the manual finalised at meetings held by the committee. The committee also provided a detailed chart on why they did not accept some of the suggestions.

The committee was appointed by the Directorate of Health Services (DHS) on directions passed by the Nagpur bench of the Bombay high court in a public interest litigation filed by advocate Vijay Patiat and social worker, Dr Ranjana Pardhi.
The revised manual states, "It has been observed that most examining doctors write their opinion in their medico-legal report to the effect that she [the victim] is habituated to sexual intercourse [or not]. It must be remembered that this opinion has no relevance at all whatsoever to the offence."

The committee cited a 2005 judgment of the Supreme Court in relation to a case from Uttar Pradesh where the court stated that the victim being "accustomed to sexual intercourse is not a determinative question. Even if it is hypothetically accepted that victim has lost virginity earlier, it need not and cannot in law, give licence to any person to rape her." A few more procedural aspects related to age determination of the victim, among others have been added.

Maharashtra is the first state in the country to make forensic examination of sexual assault victims more victim-friendly. Apart from the sensitising doctors conducting the procedure, the committee has drawn seven detailed proformas and formats to be followed by medical officers examining the victim and the accused.



9,000 minor MP girls go missing in 20 months

Minor girls trafficking has scourged Madhya Pradesh. Isolated recoveries of abducted or trafficked girls in Mandsaur, Mandla, Dindori or Balaghat districts in recent months don’t give a real picture of the enormity of the human trafficking.

But the number of missing girls put together from across the state since January 2010 to August 2011 is indeed alarming: over 9000. Of these missing girls, 4,000 are yet to be traced, police records said.

This is despite the state anti-trafficking cell constituted last year, following rescue of over 50 girls from the brothels of Banchda tribes along roads in Mandsaur.
“Out of the 57 girls rescued from the Banchhra, 24 were reported missing in police stations,” said GK Pathak, SP Mandsaur, who busted the flesh trade rackets. The other girls who were rescued were not reported missing as they were abducted at a very young age and are now grown ups and, therefore, it is difficult to trace them, Pathak said.

The anti-human trafficking cell has registered 46 cases of missing girls this year and rescued 85 minors.

“Of the rescued 85 girls, 75 were reported missing in various police stations. The remaining were brought by the traffickers by fooling their parents”, said Aruna Mohan Roy, IG, anti-trafficking cell.

During January 2010 to August 2011, 6022 boys too went missing and 1,937 of them are untraceable. However, the anti-trafficking cell’s main worry is missing girls.



Lack of chemicals for DNA tests delays KURLA RAPES PROBE

Hundreds Of Samples Sent To Forensic Lab Since January Not Studied Because Of Dearth Of Supplies Or Work Backlog

More than a year after three young girls were brutally raped and murdered in Nehru Nagar,two of the cases are yet to be solved.The police say their probe is stuck because the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) in Kalina has not studied for months the hundreds of DNA samples of suspects they sentostensibly due to a scarcity of chemicals required for DNA profiling.

Between January and September this year,the additional police commissioners (east region) office sent 12 letters to the forensic laboratory seeking status reports on the DNA samples.On all occasions they got no reply.The only response we received from the FSL director said that the delay is due to a shortage of funds to buy the chemicals required to carry out the tests, said additional police commissioner Quaiser Khalid.The delay will give an edge to the perpetrator.It might even allow him to escape.

Since their investigation began,the police have delivered 915 DNA samples to FSL but received profile reports of only 623,the last of which came in January.The remaining 292 are yet to be tested.Even now,the local police and the crime branch send two or three DNA samples related to the Nehru Nagar murder cases a week for profiling.
Investigators said that DNA samples are being collected and sent for profiling to compare them with those found at the murder spots.The DNA samples discovered on two raped and murdered girlsfive-year-old Sania Siddique and seven-yearold Anjali Jaiswalbelong to the same person, said a police officer.After we arrested Javed Shaikh for the murder and rape of nine-year-old Nushrat Shaikh in June last year,we were able to prove his crime beyond doubt because his DNA samples matched with those collected from the victims body.

An FSL official explained that a scarcity of required chemicals halted all DNA profiling at the lab between January and May.By the time it resumed in June there was such a backlog that other cases took precedence and Nehru Nagar samples took a backseat.

Incidentally,it was the testing for the Nehru Nagar cases that indirectly caused the scarcity of chemicals.The laboratory,another source said,had rarely witnessed a manhunt of the magnitude prompted by Nehru Nagar killings,which required testing of hundreds of DNA samples.Owing to the deluge of samples last year and the urgency to test them,the laboratory actually ran out of DNA testing kits.One DNA kit can test up to 100 samples, said the source.

Even when there were no lab kits,the laboratory was still under immense pressure from the public and the state home ministry to continue checking samples.
The laboratory ended up making private purchases without tendering for want of time, said another source.When the bills for the out-ofturn purchase were sent to Mantralaya,the administration questioned why the tendering process was not followed.

This led to a delay in getting funds sanctioned to purchase test kits and other supplies such as chemicals,which in turn held up DNA profiling between January and May.DNA kits used by the FSL are manufactured by a US-based company and provided by local suppliers.

Cops draw up data on migrants in area

Mumbai: The Nehru Nagar police have been regularly collecting data of migrants staying in the locality to solve the two pending cases of rape and murder of minor girls that occurred in February and March last year.Over 10,000 people were screened since the incident occurred,though there has been no breakthrough.

Since the incidents,officials have been preparing charts of those who lived in Nehru Nagar at various points of time,hailing from across the country Karnataka,Bihar,New Delhi,Rajasthan and other states.Additional commissioner of police (east region) Quaiser Khalid,said collecting and maintaining data of migrants is an ongoing process.This makes it easier to locate and track down anyone involved in any crime even in future, Khalid said.He added the police have not stopped the data collection process.Incidentally,the Mumbai crime branch team is also keeping track of the case.
However,for three months after the police probe started,the smallscale footwear manufacturing and zari units suffered maximum losses due to shortage of labourers.Many migrants left as they were unable to work after the incident.They were picked up by the police for questioning,which scared them away, said Moosa Bhai,secretary of Shri Sai Shraddha Cooperative Society,where the first victim Sania Siddiques (6) body was found in February.

It was impossible for me to work for three months.I would get calls from police investigating the case and they would ask me to rush to different locations.Similarly,others residing in the locality were picked up at any time and later let go, Sanias father Sikander told TOI.

The other victims parents said they were satisfied with the way the police have made efforts day and night to track down the accused.

Families accept 1L state compensation

Mumbai: Following much persuasion from friends and neighbours,the families of the three girls murdered in Nehru Nagar last year have decided to accept the Rs1-lakh compensation offered by the state.

More than a month ago,the families had rejected the cheque proffered by the state home department on emotional grounds despite their limited resources.They changed their mind after well-wishers convinced them that the money could be used to clear the mounds of debt they accumulated in the wake of the killings.

The money will not bring back our child.We would not have accepted the money.However,looking at my familys condition and after repeated persuasion,I decided to take it to clear the debts I amassed while not working for a month after the incident, said Hrishikesh Jaiswal.His nine-year-old daughter Anjali was found dead in March last year on the terrace of the police quarters close to Nehru Nagar police station a day after she went missing.

Anjalis murder came almost a month after that of Sania Siddique.The six-year-olds body was found in a sack on the steps of a seven-storey building in Kurla (East).Her father Sikander told TOI that it was the local MLAs office that informed the three victims families about the compensation.My wife explained to me why we should take the money,though it cannot give us our child back.

Sikander said that he and his wife still dream of their child.I shifted to a new house a short distance away from the old one a year after the incident.I will use the money to clear the dues of Rs 30,000 I incurred while staying jobless for about three months, he said.

The parents of the third murder victim,nine-year-old Nushrat Shaikh,said they have still not come to terms with their daughters death.No parent can forget the loss of his or her child, said Shaikhs father.



June 6,2010 |

Nine-year-old Nushrat Shaikh was playing outside her house at Shramik Nagar in Kurla (East) when Javed Shaikh,19,lured her away by offering sweets and toys.The teenager took Nushrat to a locked house in Vatsalatai,entered it through a small opening in the roof and then strangled her as she screamed.Javed then raped the child.During interrogation,Javed said he committed the crime after watching pornography on the internet.He is currently in jail

March 6,2010 |

The body of nine-year-old Anjali Jaiswal was found on the terrace of the police quarters close to Nehru Nagar police station a day after she went missing while playing outside her house.The girls corpse was spotted around 9.30am by a policemans child staying in the building.An autopsy later showed the girl had been raped before being killed.There has been no breakthrough in the case

February 7,2010 |

Six-year-old Sania Siddique went missing on the night of February 6 when she stepped out to play with her friends at Vatsalatai Nagar in Kurla (East).The next day,her body was found in a sack on the steps of a seven-storey building in Sri Sai Shradha Cooperative Housing Society.Tests later revealed that the perpetrator first raped and then killed the child.The case is yet to be solved

October 10, 2011


Hindustan Times


The case of a six-year parent, who was allegedly sodomised by a teacher, has revived the debate on the need for a stringent law on child sexual abuse.

The Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences Bill, which proposes harsher punishment of imprisonment from seven years to life, is still pending in the Parliament.

While the bill addresses issues such as defining sexual abuse and setting up of special courts to deal with such cases, activists have raised questions regarding the age of consent and lack of preventive clauses.

“In the absence of a special law, it is hard to prove cases in court,“ said Nishit Kumar, spokesperson, Childline, a nonprofit, which works for child rights.

The bill also recommends the appointment of a special public prosecutor in such cases.

“There is no proper law to deal with cases where victims are boys. The new bill is gender neutral, which is good,“ said Priti Patkar, who runs an NGO called Prerna that helps children of commercial sex workers.

The bill proposes to make all offences related to child sexual abuse non-bailable.

“No matter how good the draft is, if the machinery is not implemented it is useless,“ said Sangeeta Punekar, a child rights activist, adding that the bill needs to address witness protection.

Another concern for experts is the age of consent. The bill states that if a victim is between 16 to 18 years, then his/her consent needs to be considered.
Author Pinki Virani, whose book Bitter Chocolate deals with child sexual abuse in India, wrote a letter to the Parliamentary Standing Committee in July for redrafting of the bill. “Around 25% of child prostitutes are between 15 and 18 years of age.
Around five lakh children are forced into this trade every year.
The state wants to add to these figures by lowering the age (of consent),“ the letter states.

Yug Chaudhary, a criminal lawyer, said the bill could criminalise exploratory sexual behaviour among children. He said the bill widened the range of sexual offences without providing adequate protection. “If two 15-yearolds have consensual sex, the bill puts the boy in the range of criminal law and makes consensual innocence irrelevant,“ he said.

October 9, 2011


Times of India

State manual is unscientific and biased: NGO

MUMBAI: The Mumbai-based health NGO Cehat joined the case for a streamlined medico-legal response to sexual assault. It has since sought the World Health Organization's help in drawing up the guidelines. The WHO's response to the Maharashtra pro forma was sent to the committee appointed by the HC early this year, but little has been incorporated.

"There is little emphasis on physical and psychological treatment of the victim,'' said Cehat's Sangeeta Rege, adding that the focus is still on rape and not on sexual assault. There is no mention of putting the victim on preventive treatment for HIV or pregnancy. The organization has sent a letter of protest to the directorate of health's Dr Archana Patil. "The manual just doesn't incorporate the internationally accepted definition of "sexual violence" and therefore continues to be unscientific and biased against women,'' said the letter. A long-standing demand to include a standardized checklist for doctors has also been ignored.

The activists feel that observations about a woman's nutritional status or physical constitution could lead to bias: for instance, the assumption that a well-built woman can resist sexual assault. Secondly, doctors don't need to ascertain the size of the accused's penis, his ability to assault or the presence of hymen in the victim to underline rape. "Hymen can tear due to a physical activity like cycling,'' said Rege. Lastly, some evidence may be lost because victims may delay complaining to the police or doctors. "So, stressing on the presence of injuries is not right,'' she added.

Dr Walter Vaz, who heads KEM Hospital's forensic department and is an advisor to Cehat in this case, said that certain points had to be downplayed and others to be highlighted in the pro forma. "The hymen is an overrated piece of tissue. We need to downplay it as well as potency of the accused. Gentle reminders about questions doctors need to ask patients may help,'' he said.

Lawyer-activist Flavia Agnes, who was present for the committee's meeting on August 6, concurred. "We need to stress on treatment for patients, especially those who don't want to lodge a complaint. Public hospital doctors may ask such a rape victim to go and not even treat her.''

Incidentally, the WHO observations mentioned the need for "probes'' or questions that doctors need to ask. "The victim needs to be asked if there was oral or anal sex. The doctors too are part of our society and many feel squeamish about asking such questions. Hence, we need a list of probes,'' said Rege. However, the committee has in its August 6 consultations turned down this suggestion saying that it would be a leading question. Police surgeon Dr S M Patil, who is a member of the state government committee, said that the committee comprised gynaecologists, forensic experts and resident doctors who do the actual examination of victims. "It wasn't the decision of one person. An entire committee has thought and worked it out. Moreover, it is not necessary that all that health activists say is right.'' The next hearing is on October 12.


Defining ‘consent'

India is finally ready with a comprehensive Bill that will protect children from sexual abuse. But the Bill, says author-activist Pinki Virani, has a major flaw regarding sexual consent that needs to be immediately addressed and the stakeholders consulted before it becomes law.

With a certain Standing Committee so much in the news, let us look at what is happening with another Standing Committee looking into a Bill to protect children from sexual abuse by adults. Author-activist Pinki Virani, a National Award winner for Bitter Chocolate: Child Sexual Abuse in India, has been lobbying for a comprehensive law on this issue for more than a decade. Here, she opens up on the detailed letter she has sent the Standing Committee on what more needs to be fixed before the Parliament votes it in as a landmark law.

Excerpts from an interview…

What exactly does the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Bill, 2011, entail?

It is India's first legislation, ever, to protect children sexually from predatory adults. Children here refer to minors, i.e. ranging from newly-born to 17 years, 11 months and 29 days. At 18, the child becomes a major. To date, there is no law in India to protect those under 18 from paedophiles. The few cases being reported have been tried in adult courts under adult laws and timeframes. The Bill, when it becomes law, will change this.

Of the nine points that you say need urgent attention, which is the most important?
The Bill, bizarrely, introduces a clause that almost legalises child sexual abuse. The clause, paraphrased, says that should an adult sexually abuse a child between 16 and 18 years, it will be examined as if the child “consented”. Surreally, consent has not been taken from the real stakeholders on whether the consent age can be lowered from 18 to 16, thereby disenfranchising this entire age-group and future generations from legal protection against sexual abuse. The stakeholders can, must, and always have to be, those directly concerned.

Who are the stakeholders?

Parents and grandparents, who might also be working professionals like doctors, lawyers, psychiatrists, counsellors and even elected Members of Parliament and Assemblies whose informed insight should help shape the child's rights-space. Teachers and educationists. Young adults above 18. And those in 16-18 age group right now.

What qualifies as consent?

Here is how consent can be misconstrued if this clause is passed. A 16-year-old girl is being taught dance by an adult instructor. Like all perpetrators, he grooms her so that there will be no ongoing objection; slowly he moves in to perform several sexual acts with her. The onus to prove that she did not want “it” will be upon her. As it will on a 17-year-old-boy sodomised by an adult male known to him. Or even one whom he has recently met, and doesn't know that he has been snared into that part of the web looking for “fresh male meat”. For instance, in a chat-room on the Internet, then they meet in person and the boy is sodomised.

Is the age of consent 16 years worldwide?

It differs from country to country. In countries where it is 16, it is understood to mean “informed consent”. These nations also try to ensure that safeguards are in place for their young to fall back upon should they need immediate and sensitive legal assistance, starting with the police moving in to immediately stop the adult forcing himself/herself sexually upon the minor the moment there is a call for help, even if the minor falls in the consent-band. More so since child sex abusers rarely stop at one child/instance. Research indicates that adults can sexually abuse up to 35 children before being identified as paedophiles.

There is also a very real concern in developed nations about the appalling side-effects of child sexual abuse, which tend to criminalise the child and also carry over to future generations. Generally speaking, sexually abused children grow up misunderstanding their original sexuality; some become hyper-sexualised and are traumatised by their bisexuality. Boys can become wife-beaters, girls indifferent mothers. Some grow to become child sexual abusers themselves.

Who decides consent-age?

The stakeholders. Lowering of age requires a differently-worded and independent law; it cannot be a part of this Bill, which needs to be passed through both houses of Parliament after due discussion. Before this informed consent needs to be taken from the stakeholders by spelling out the pros and cons. Stakeholders can be informed through print, TV and radio ads to access a particular site on nic.in. Ministries have enough “advertising money”, which can also be more effectively utilised towards informing stakeholders who do not have access to nic.

With more Indian teenagers having sex at a younger age, what is the harm in lowering the age of consent?

First, don't confuse adults preying upon children sexually with teens experimenting between themselves. Second, there are overwhelming factors leading to too-early sexualisation of Indian teens that need to be addressed. What, then, would be the next lowering of age-band, from 16 to 13, then 10? Third and finally, it is a decision to be taken by the stakeholders, not by politicians alone. As the clause now stands it leaves our children at the mercy of adult sexual abusers.

Will existing laws on prostitution or their stricter implementation help reduce the number of children forced into the flesh trade?

Child prostitution has become pervasive. India ranks high internationally in child-sex-tourism and pornography. With the police cracking down in Thailand and Amsterdam, paedophiles have turned their attention to India. Children form a sickening chunk of the Rs. 40,000 crore commercial sex industry. Of this, 25 per cent of the child prostitutes are between 15 and 18 years of age; this is bound to increase should the “consent” age be decreased.

Given that 53 per cent of Indian children are subjected to sexual abuse, don't you think it is also important to educate children about sex?

Prevention is better than cure always, especially when it comes to child sexual abuse. The HRD ministry must formulate a graded module on sex education — schools can call it whatever they want if they don't want to use the word “sex” — for schools and colleges. This incremental information should be disseminated and each school/college can then apply it to their own cultural environment after discussion and with the active collaboration of their Parent-Teacher Associations. Teachers can conduct one interactive class per year (starting from primary going up to Class XII). The education-modules should include child sexual abuse but not be limited to it and expand age-appropriately to provide holistic information on the body, its rights and its responsibilities.

Would you say that if government reduces the consent age from 18 to 16 without consulting stakeholders, the most vulnerable will be mostly street children, young labour, and college freshers vis-à-vis ragging?

Well, yes and no. What about children who are equally vulnerable in middle and upper-class homes? Research shows that child sexual abuse cuts across class, money and religious lines. The statistics speak for themselves: 50 per cent of the children are sexually assaulted in their own homes. Perpetrators frequently “groom” the child to ensure that it will be compliant. To reduce the age of consent from 18 to 16 is to increase the risk. College-going call-girls and boy-toys/stud-boys would be seen as legally “consenting” when they give sex in exchange for money/drugs/better report cards et al, thereby legalising the use of a young body as barter.
This is the only Bill that, when it becomes law, will protect not only our current generation of children but every generation hereafter.

What can you do?

Readers can send their letters to the Rajya Sabha's committee currently examining the Bill, addressed to: Mr. Oscar Fernandes, Rajya Sabha MP, Head, Parliamentary Standing Committee, Human Resource Development, Rm 515, 5th floor, Parliament House Annexe, Delhi 110001.



Plan to set up women and child welfare department: Chandy

First Child Resource Centre in country set up in Thrissur

The State government is planning to set up a separate department for women and child development, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has said.

He was speaking after inaugurating a UNICEF-aided Child Resource Centre, which will guide local governments on effective child-centric governance, at the Kerala Institute of Local Administration (KILA), near here, on Saturday.

“The State Planning Board has suggested such a department on the lines of the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development. The proposed department will function under the Social Welfare Minister,” he said.

Kerala was one of the few States, which had implemented the guidelines of the Integrated Programme for Child Protection of the Union government, he said. A Child Protection Council had already been set up in the State, he said.
Mr. Chandy urged the local governments to activate grama sabhas to strengthen democratic decentralisation.

The State government had submitted an application to the Union Ministry of Human Resources for securing deemed university status for KILA, the Chief Minister said.
Minister for Social Welfare and Grama Panchayats M.K. Muneer said that the State would have a Nutrition Policy soon. The main focus of the policy would be to provide nutritional food to growing children, the Minister said.

“Even while the State claims high health standards, 70 per cent of children in the tribal areas are victims of persistent poverty and malnutrition,” he said.
Though there were more than 33,000 anganwadis in the State, there was no system to monitor their activities, he said.

Sathish Kumar, Chief of Field Office (Kerala and Tamil Nadu), UNICEF, said lack of stringent punishment to culprits was promoting the violence against children in the State.

“About 60 per cent of the abusers are close relatives of the children. So majority of the crimes go unreported. The conspiracy of silence around child sexual abuse in society has to be shattered,” he said.

The focus of UNICEF's programme in Kerala would be to address the second generation development problems, including high suicide rates and increasing cases of child abuse, Dr. Satish Kumar said.

The Child Resource Centre (CRC), first of its kind in the country, would facilitate Local governments to design and implement comprehensive child development programmes. The major activities of the CRC would include organising training programmes for members of local governments, setting up of on-line repository on child governance, formation of consortium of stakeholders engaged in child governance, and policy advocacy.

A handbook, a training manual, and a video on ‘Comprehensive Child Development and local governments' were released on the occasion.

District panchayat president K.V. Dasan; and KILA Director P.P. Balan, and assistant professor Peter M. Raj were among those participated in the programme.

October 4, 2011

Times of India

Teacher held for sodomy in Walkeshwar

MUMBAI: A six-year-old student of Walkeshwar's Manav Mandir School was allegedly repeatedly sodomized by his physical education teacher last week. The parents said the school tried to hush up the issue and protect the teacher by blaming another student. The Malabar Hill police arrested Shivaji Tawade on Sunday night and charged him with unnatural sex and criminal intimidation.

Tawade allegedly asked Rehan (name changed to protect identity) to accompany him to the bathroom on Wednesday morning. He then allegedly sexually abused him and warned him not to tell anyone about what had happened.

The next day, Tawade allegedly repeated the act, after which Rehan broke down. Tawade also reportedly threatened Rehan that he would throw him under a running bus if he revealed his name, and told him to tell his parents that Sahil (name changed), a class VI student, was abusing him.

When Rehan went home that day, his parents found him distressed. Rehan's father said, "He refused to go to school and said he wanted to stay home for some days. When we tried to cajole him, he started crying and told us that Sahil had molested him." Rehan's mother went to his school the next day and complained to the administrator about Sahil. The administrator, T R K Varma, told Sahil's mathematics teacher, Hiren, to find out what had happened.

Sahil's parents alleged that Hiren was Tawde's co-conspirator and forced Sahil to write a confession, claiming that he had accompanied Rehan to the toilet and molested him. "He made my son write five letters as he was not satisfied with the exact words. He dictated the letter and told him that if he didn't do as told, his parents would be notified and he would be expelled from school," said Sahil's mother. The letter was given to the administrator, who rusticated Sahil for three days to conduct an enquiry. "Even I cannot believe that an 11-year-old boy can do something like this. But since Rehan's mother had given a written complaint and the boy confessed, we had to temporarily suspend him. We are cooperating with the police," said Varma.

Rehan was upset and unusually quiet, which was causing concern to his family. He started bleeding when his mother was bathing him on Sunday. When his shocked parents asked him if he was hiding anything, Rehan revealed what Tawade had done to him and how he had forced him to frame Sahil. His parents then filed a police complaint, apologized to Sahil's parents for the false complaint, and told them what exactly happened.

Rehan was taken to the Nagpada police hospital for a checkup.
Tawade has been remanded to police custody till Friday. "We have completed a panchnama and have interrogated the school authorities. Investigations are on," said Vinay Bagade, Malabar Hill senior police inspector.

The families of Sahil and Rehan have demanded that the principal reinstate Sahil and dismiss Tawade and Hiren. "The principal is being uncooperative and trying to save the teachers. How can we let our children study in such a school," they asked.


MUMBAI: The Walkeshwar sodomy incident has left school principals across the city in a state of panic. What worried most of them was the increasing cases over the past year and the vulnerability of students falling prey to such incidents.

"Counseling is the first and most important step a school has to take as it may not be only the student who was victimized but others who know about the incident may also be affected," said Rekha Shahani, principal, Kamla High School, Khar (W). She said such incidents leave a "lifetime of fear" in students and parents and it was important to seek professional help.

The Walkeshwar school's alleged attempt to brush the issue under the carpet has left many educationists shocked. "No matter who is at fault, schools must never ignore such incidents. Action should be taken immediately, to assure other parents that their children are safe, and to warn those with similar intentions," said the principal of a South Mumbai school.

"One must think about the trauma the child and parents go through, rather than worry about their image in society," the principal added.

While most schools have started counseling sessions for students, many principals agreed that it was important to sensitize even young children. "It is important to teach all the difference between a good and bad touch," said Deepshikha Srivastava, principal, Rajhans Vidyalaya, Andheri. Psychiatrists said it was important for schools to seek help from outside counselors in such cases.


Hindustan Times

'Teach children to report sexual abuse'

The arrest of a Walkeshwar schoolteacher on Monday for allegedly sodomising a six-year-old student underscores the need of preventive programmes and stringent security policies as most cases of child sexual abuse are not reported, say child rights activists.

"Nearly 180 million children in India are marginalised and are extremely vulnerable," said Nishit Kumar, spokesperson for Childline, a non-profit which runs a help line for children. "It is critical to organise preventive programmes so that children can recognise and avoid abuse." In March, Childline started an awareness programme in 600 schools in the city, using story-telling to make children aware of sexual abuse.

Arpan, an NGO that works to protect children from sexual abuse, recently completed a six-day personal safety workshop at Bombay Cambridge School, Andheri, and will start a similar initiative in the city's low-income group schools after Diwali.

"This programme is essential because it helps children speak out," said Savita, principal, Bombay Cambridge School. "They need to know that if something goes wrong it is not their fault and they can share it."

According to a 2007 report by the ministry of women and child development (see box), 53.22% of the 12,447 children surveyed across 13 states said that they had faced one or more form of sexual abuse, but most did not report it. Although abuse is prevalent in all strata of society, those most vulnerable include children on the streets, along with those made to work, and the ones in institutional care.

"Much work needs to be done in the area of prevention," said Pooja Taparia, founder and CEO of Arpan.
"Moreover, parents need awareness and knowledge on how to intervene appropriately when abuse is reported. Often, children feel uncomfortable about opening up because parents do not believe them."

Priti Patkar, director of Prerna, an NGO which provides shelter to children of commercial sex workers, said schools should screen their staff. "Children may or may not retain safety training, but schools must have a child protection policy and a dedicated mechanism to receive complaints."

Hindustan Times

Schools skirt sex education debate by opting for counselling, slideshows

City schools are no longer shy of addressing issues related to child sexual abuse and many have started conducting sessions in which children and parents are made aware about the issue. "Cases of sexual harassment have been on the rise in schools and younger children are more vulnerable as they may not be able to express themselves," said Deepshikha Srivastav, principal of Rajhans Vidyalaya, Andheri. "We have full-time counsellors who conduct sessions on good touch and bad touch," she added.

Like Rajhans, other schools have also responded to the demand for such awareness. A few months ago, parents of students from Eurokids, Versova, had complained about a young teacher who allegedly taught toddlers how to kiss.

Following the incident, another pre-school, Podar Jumbo Kids, Santacruz, prepared a slideshow on the difference between a 'good touch' and a 'bad touch'. The slideshow is shown to toddlers' parents, staff members and even bus attendants. Moreover, all Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) schools have an adolescent development programme wherein children are taught about sex education, among other things.

However, whether sex education is required at the school level is still a strongly debated issue. When asked if it should be made mandatory, Srivastav said, "Children are too young to understand what is sexual and what is asexual. But they can be taught a lot of things indirectly which conveys the message better."

Activists, and survivors of child sexual abuse have a different opinion on sex education. "We need to understand the difference between sex education and pornography. Sex education will not provoke children but will enable them to come up the right words to indicate an act of abuse," said Harish Iyer, a media professional, who was a victim of sexual abuse for 11 years. "Had I known at the age of five what was happening with me, I wouldn't have been abused for so long. Sex education is the need of the hour."

October 1, 2011


Mumbai Mirror

Omar says sorry after J&K govt gives out names of rape victims

Srinagar A few days after the Jammu and Kashmir government made public the names of hundreds of rape victims from the state, triggering massive outrage, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Friday tendered an unqualified apology for the insensitive act.

“Since I am the chief minister and the home minister of the state, I have a deep sense of shame and a deep sense of apology over the disclosures of the names of rape victims. I tender an unqualified apology to the rape victims and their families and I will ensure such a thing does not happen again,” Abdullah told the Assembly.

Responding to a question in the Assembly seeking details of rape victims, the state home ministry, headed by the CM, not only gave tehsil-wise details of the rapes but also the names of the victims, their parents and residential addresses.

Abdullah assured the house that he would get back to the members after making a thorough enquiry as to why the list was released.

The publication of rape victims' names is in contravention of Section 228 (A) of the Indian Penal Code that deals with the disclosure of the identity of the victim of certain offences.

A total of 1,326 rapes cases had been registered in the state since 2006. However, only one person had been convicted of the crime so far during the last five years, the government reply said.

Bulk of the rape cases are sub-judice or under investigation.

Hindustan times

Crimes against women on the rise

Despite the tall claims of equality and empowerment, women in Mumbai are feeling increasingly unsafe and instances of violence against them are on the rise.

While some crimes such as dowry-related deaths and harassment have seen a steep decline, serious offences such as rape,

Molestation and kidnapping have increased drastically.

Until August 2010, the Mumbai police had registered 39 cases of rape; the number has shot up to 56 for same period this year. Similarly, 12 women were reported kidnapped from January to August 2010, which has increased to 19 for the same period this year.

The safety perception takes its most serious hit when molestation cases are compared — from 287 recorded until August 2010, they have risen to 345 this year.

A senior woman police officer said, “Most labourers living here are alien and are mostly staying alone or with other men. Their families, if any, are back in their hometowns and to fulfill their prurient desires they target women in their area, which leads to increase in cases of rape and molestation.”

According to Jaywant Hargude, assistant commissioner of police (crime branch), “Earlier, women were scared to approach the police fearing societal stigma, but now they have become bold and want their tormentor punished.”

Times of India

Medical evidence not always must to prove rape: HC

NAGPUR: Without strong medical evidence, the offence of rape is difficult to prove. However, in a landmark verdict, the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court has ruled that medical evidence is not always necessary to prove an offence of rape.

"Merely because there is no medical evidence to prove sexual intercourse, it can't be held that the accused is innocent," a single-judge bench of justice UV Bakre ruled, adding that 'this is because there is strong, truthful and reliable evidence of the victim.' The court dismissed the appeal filed by Maroti Sadmake, a Gadchiroli headmaster who was convicted of raping a minor by a lower court, after almost nine years of the crime.

Citing a report by Dr Sadhana Joshi, who examined 12-yearold Komolika (name changed) for ascertaining injuries and sexual assault, the court observed that 'in girls aged about 13-14 years, the hymen is tough and without rupture of hymen, the sexual intercourse is possible with slight penetration.' Justice Bakre, while upholding the Gadchiroli sessions court verdict of convicting Sadmake, ruled that victim's testimony 'inspires full confidence, is wholly reliable and has circumstantial support of the testimonies of other witnesses'.

Komolika, a Std IV student of an ashramshala in Dhanora, used to stay in the hostel at the time of the incident. After the exam, some students went home, but Komolika stayed back. On April 16, 1994, around 8pm, when she was returning after attending nature's call, Sadmake forcibly took her to a nearby field and raped her.