Human Rights Day (10th December) is observed globally. Pledges are taken to grant all human beings their basic inalienable rights. Yet millions of tortured and damned girl children continue to live in darkness, shame, pain, and agony. Ruchira files a report on the Human Rights Day, as part of the Special Feature, exclusively for Different Truths.
I hate to pick up the newspaper every morning. For the simple reason, that beginning with the front page, reports about sexual crimes and atrocities peep from all corners. I will wager, there will be eight to ten stories, randomly, on a single day. Enough to make your blood boil. And ruin your mood for the entire day. Women with daughters (I happen to be one) of all ages have begun to live in consternation lest similar evil might befall their darlings. In fact, I am inclined to believe (I’m sure many others will too) that sexual assault against the fair sex has been in vogue over the last few years, like never before. Just take a look at the immense variety of the crimes perpetrated on the poor hapless creatures – groping, molestation, moving on to solo rape and finally gang rape!
Our Heritage & Culture
And we call ourselves an ancient, exalted civilization? A familiar old Sanskrit adage goes thus: “Yatra naryastu poojyante, ramante tatra devtaa.” Apparently, these heartless monsters have either not heard of this or else have grown blissfully oblivious of this lofty ideal. Or perhaps they consider rape a new mode of worshipping the womenfolk. Words fail me!
Then & Now
Until about a decade ago, everyone believed that rapes happened when spurned partners or jilted lovers wanted to avenge themselves of the insult or rejection. Alternatively, people thought rapes were committed by men in an inebriated condition after late night revelry. But now it appears that you don’t even require a solid reason. Moreover, any time is the ideal time for rape or sexual assault – from the crack of dawn to broad daylight to dusk going up to midnight and beyond. The most horrific part is that of late, the bulk of the victims happen to be infants, toddlers, girls of pre-puberty age or minors.
In late November this year, the National Capital Region was dumbstruck to learn how a 4-year-old sexually assaulted his classmate in a school in upmarket Dwarka (southwest Delhi).The mother of the tiny victim alleged the boy used his finger and a sharpened pencil, which resulted in wounds in the girl’s private parts. In less than a week, the entire nation was again stunned by the gruesome rape of a four-year-old in a reputed south Kolkata school. Two PT instructors lured her with chocolates and sexually assaulted in the school toilet! Such instances are a chilly reminder of the nefarious Ruchika Girhotra (1990) case, where the budding tennis player was molested by her coach, a senior police officer. In utter shame and trauma the teenager from Panchkula, Haryana, took her own life. Classic cases of protectors-turning-predators! It is shocking to witness, schools/academies which society regards as hallowed portals of knowledge, fast turning into fields of sin and debauchery. Such cases are plentiful across the country. Schools, clinics parks, homes of neighbours and family friends are hotbeds of such heinous acts. In most cases, culprits are familiar with the victims who are caught unawares when the onslaught comes. There are umpteen reports filed in Delhi- India’s rape capital – of how little girls were gang-raped in local parks by their neighbours’ sons. I remember how a daughter of one of my colleagues had a lucky escape. The very first time the manservant touched her inappropriately, she informed her mother. The offender was sacked forthwith. Deeply distressed by the spiralling incidents of juvenile rape, recently, a septuagenarian lady, mother of one of my friends, happened to remark: Raping a sexually mature/adult female may provide some sexual gratification to rapists. But what pleasure can one derive by raping a few months- old baby or a toddler whose genital organs are not even developed. Blunt but undeniable logic.
Facts & Figures
According to some recent statistics, the number of child abuse cases in 2015 was lesser than those reported in 2014. And yet, 451 girls were raped before they were six! Another 1,151 girls faced sexual abuse before turning twelve. In other words, a girl not yet enrolled in a primary school, and three others in pre-teens group were raped every day in 2015. Shocking, a 2007 study sponsored by the administration at the Centre had estimated that every second child in India had faced one or more forms of sexual abuse. To sum up, as matters stand now, females, irrespective of their age are highly unsafe anywhere and everywhere. Ministries and NGOs may shout from the rooftops about work done to ameliorate female children’s plight, but precious little is done.
In December each year, Human Rights Day (10th December) is observed globally. Pledges are taken to grant all human beings their basic inalienable rights. Yet millions of tortured and damned girl children continue to live in darkness, shame, pain, and agony.
The moot point is: why do such incidents occur? It’s got to be either of the two things. One segregation of sexes and repression since early childhood; and two, mental ill-health coupled with severe hormonal imbalance. Such factors may propel adolescents and adult men to commit such dastardly crimes. However what leaves me flummoxed is how toddlers and pre-teen boys (just out of their diapers) can think along sexual lines? A case in point is the Dwarka incident. Easy accessibility to Internet, garbled, inaccurate information and porn could be the main culprit. Also, instead of exercising abundant caution, parents (read married adults) of diverse age groups tend to live reckless lives, which hugely impact tender minds of children in the families.
Sociologist Samata Deshmane of the Bangalore University feels the problem is not just sociological, but also psychological. She adds, it is flawed socialisation that allows people to view women in a way that encourages them to hurt or even destroy them. Noted psychologists like Sulata Shenoy and BN Gangadhar, advise spread of sex education, among necessary measures to tackle the situation. On their part, parents must train their little ones not to report any suspicious behaviour or act on part of strange males, avoid venturing out except under parental supervision, and resist temptations of gifts, goodies proffered by potential rapists. The change must come from within. Stringent punishment or psychiatric treatments are likely to prove superficial. Mothers of boys must teach their wards to respect females from the cradle till senility. The boys must learn to respect their sisters, neighbours, playmates instead of treating them as mere worthless objects, which can be twisted and tormented as per their whims. Men and their mothers must bear in mind that little girls of today, will become mothers of more men in future. Pray, do not trample on the rosebuds of today. Once they bloom, they will fill the garden of childhood with fragrance.
©Ruchira Adhikari Ghosh
Photos from the Internet
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Born in Guwahati Assam, Ruchira grew up in Delhi and Punjab. A product of Sacred Heart Convent, Ludhiana, she holds a Master’s degree in English Literature from Punjab University, Chandigarh. Armed with a P.G diploma in journalism in Journalism, she has been a pen-pusher for nearly 25 years. Her chequered career encompasses print, web, as well as television. She has metamorphosed as a feature writer, her forte being women’s issues, food, travel and literature.