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How many children, INDIAN children at that, are aware that they have rights ?
Does the under-aged boy working at that tea-stall near your office know that child labour is illegal ? Does his employer know that ?
How old is the “young” looking domestic help who cleans your house and washes your dishes ? Does she go to school ?
How many of us have been witnesses to incidents of child abuse and haven’t done anything about it ?
You know, the young urchin who got beaten up for sitting outside a shop and “obstructing the view” of potential customers ?
Or the little girl who was slapped by a pedestrian for bumping into her pristine white sari ?
“These things happen”, you say.
Reverse the faces on these photographs. Place yourself in the lives of these children.
Life is harder for them than you would ever imagine humanly possible.
Child Sexual Abuse is a regular occurence with these children [*this is to say that they belong to a high vulnerability level*]. The picture below is self-explanatory.
Here are a few Articles from the Convention on the Rights of the Child , as adopted by young students in an American school:
Here’s a little background, courtesy UNICEF’s website
The Convention on the Rights of the Child is the first legally binding international instrument to incorporate the full range of human rights—civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights. In 1989, world leaders decided that children needed a special convention just for them because people under 18 years old often need special care and protection that adults do not. The leaders also wanted to make sure that the world recognized that children have human rights too.
For the purposes of the present Convention, a child means every human being below the age of eighteen years unless under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier.
1. States Parties recognize that every child has the inherent right to life.
2. States Parties shall ensure to the maximum extent possible the survival and development of the child.
1. States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child.
2. Such protective measures should, as appropriate, include effective procedures for the establishment of social programmes to provide necessary support for the child and for those who have the care of the child, as well as for other forms of prevention and for identification, reporting, referral, investigation, treatment and follow-up of instances of child maltreatment described heretofore, and, as appropriate, for judicial involvement.
1. States Parties recognize the right of the child to education, and with a view to achieving this right progressively and on the basis of equal opportunity, they shall, in particular:
(a) Make primary education compulsory and available free to all;
(b) Encourage the development of different forms of secondary education, including general and vocational education, make them available and accessible to every child, and take appropriate measures such as the introduction of free education and offering financial assistance in case of need;
(c) Make higher education accessible to all on the basis of capacity by every appropriate means;
(d) Make educational and vocational information and guidance available and accessible to all children;
(e) Take measures to encourage regular attendance at schools and the reduction of drop-out rates.
2. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that school discipline is administered in a manner consistent with the child’s human dignity and in conformity with the present Convention.
3. States Parties shall promote and encourage international cooperation in matters relating to education, in particular with a view to contributing to the elimination of ignorance and illiteracy throughout the world and facilitating access to scientific and technical knowledge and modern teaching methods. In this regard, particular account shall be taken of the needs of developing countries.
1. States Parties recognize the right of the child to be protected from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child’s education, or to be harmful to the child’s health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development.
2. States Parties shall take legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to ensure the implementation of the present article. To this end, and having regard to the relevant provisions of other international instruments, States Parties shall in particular:
(a) Provide for a minimum age or minimum ages for admission to employment;
(b) Provide for appropriate regulation of the hours and conditions of employment;
(c) Provide for appropriate penalties or other sanctions to ensure the effective enforcement of the present article.
States Parties shall take all appropriate measures, including legislative, administrative, social and educational measures, to protect children from the illicit use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances as defined in the relevant international treaties, and to prevent the use of children in the illicit production and trafficking of such substances.
How many rights do the children in the picture below have ?
The pictures represent the truth.
A truth that needs to be changed.
More propaganda to ensure the success of a film ?
Even before it hit the Sundance Film Festival, Deborah Kampmeier’s Hounddog, also known as ‘that Dakota Fanning rape film’, was generating enough sanctimonious sermonising to give any Southern, snake-kissing, Pentecostal preacher a run for his money. Set in Alabama in the 1950s, and featuring many snakes, it tells the story of Llewellyn, a motherless young girl (played by Fanning) who finds relief from the indignities of life with her bible-bashing grandmother and abusive father in her obsession with Elvis Presley. It includes a scene in which Fanning, aged 12 at the time of shooting, dramatises Llewellyn’s rape at the hands of the milk delivery man.
Goa is a tourist hotspot that is frequented by young and old from all over the world, some of whom visit for the calming “holiday” atmosphere, some for the wild nightlife and woodstock reminincing, and some for more sinister activities..
Post-Father Freddy Peat and other similar cases where locals and tourists were found to be indulging in the sexual abuse of children/child pornography, the Goa Child Protection Act of 2003 made a strong statement in favor of punishing those who traumatized and exploited Goa’s youth.
It can be downloaded and perused
Child rights activists all over the country were heartened by the news of the conviction of Wilhelm and Loshiar Marty by the Bombay Sessions Court on 29 March 2003, given the difficulties involved in prosecuting sex offenders in general and foreign paedophiles in particular. After the conviction of the notorious Freddy Peats in Goa on March 21 1996 not a single conviction of a foreign paedophile has taken place. This is ironic, considering that there is a great deal awareness about tourism related paedophilia in Goa today and unlike in the past, today the State too acknowledges the existence of this problem. The number of convictions or the lack of it actually defines the extent of the problem.
Today when NGOs lodge complaints with police officers they do not cast aspersions on the credibility of the complainants, as was often the case earlier. There are police officers in Goa who have investigated cases very effectively. The sad reality is that the will to effectively deal with this problem on the part of the State as a whole is still lacking. The police, the prosecutors, the courts, the Home Department and other state agencies involved have to be committed to stopping the menace of paedophilia.
The details of the cases given below illustrate the point:
Arrested on 3 April 1991, he was granted bail within 45 days, after which he freely roamed the state of Goa till he was convicted five years later. The Sessions Court expedited the case only after Mumbai-based child rights activist, Sheela Barse, filed a writ petition in the High Court in 1995 praying that the Sessions Court proceed with the trial on a daily basis. This resulted in Freddy Peats being sentenced to life imprisonment on 21 March 1996.
Kenneth John Clark
An 18-year-old boy from Andhra Pradesh filed a First Information Report against Kenneth John Clark, a British national on 9 October 1996, following which he was arrested by the Colva Police Station and charged under sections 372 and 377 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC). The boy alleged that Clark subjected him to anal sex on several occasions. Apparently Clark also allegedly forced this boy to have sex with a 14-year-old boy in his presence. Clark was let off on grounds of insufficient evidence.
Ernie Jean François
In December 1996, Umed, a child rights organisation, received a complaint against Ernie Jean François, a Swiss national aged 52 years, who had brought a nine-year-old girl from Pune, with whom he was residing in Calangute. An informant told Umed that he had been visiting Goa each year since the last three years and that he always brought different children with him. The girl accompanying him at the time had reportedly been with him for almost a year, visiting various parts of India and not going to school. Umed brought this case to the notice of the local police. However, François was allowed to leave the country on 12 March 1997, as the police were apparently unable to find evidence of sexual abuse.
Peculiar features about this case underly the problem faced generally. The police took the girl away from the custody of the suspect only 10 days after Umed filed its complaint. No representative from Umed was allowed to be present for any hearings of the case. The conclusion of the case was communicated to Umed through an official letter from the Home Department of the state government. The letter states that the first medical report ruled out “the possibility of any forceful sexual intercourse” (emphasis added). It goes on to say “in a subsequent medical report the doctor has stated that on interrogation the child admits to having sexual intercourse with more than one person.” But apparently, she had not had sexual intercourse with Jean Ernie François. No medical reports were attached to this letter and Umed’s written request for the documents met with no response.
Although Umed representatives were not permitted to interview the child, it seems that the chairperson of the National Commission for Women, Mohini Giri met her. On 20 March 1997, The Hindustan Times reported that Ms Giri was ‘rattled’ by her encounter with this girl. The girl reportedly told her that ‘the Swiss uncle would bathe her every morning and at night he showed her blue films and patted her on her face.’ He would put her to sleep ‘kissing her everywhere’. These sensational revelations did not result in any action on the part of the state, nor was it followed up by any action on the part of the National Commission for Women.
Meanwhile François continues to visit Goa.
Yvonne Rene Wallez
In March 1998, a case was registered by the Calangute police station against a 67-year-old man of Belgian origin, Yvonne Rene Wallez, for sexually abusing a 15-year-old handicapped boy under Sections 373, 377 and 294 of the IPC. However, on 13 May 1998, Wallez was found dead in his room. Jagrut Goenkaranchi Fauz (an organisation concerned with the social impact of tourism) had demanded an inquiry into the death of this man to ascertain whether this man had committed suicide to avoid judicial trial or whether any paedophile associates were involved in his death. However no follow-up was done by the police in this case.
In August 1998, some residents of Calangute complained to the police about Helmut Brinkmann, a German aged 53, that he was a paedophile. This was a unique case because the child, a boy around 14-years-old testified against him and forensic examination revealed the presence of sperm in the anus of the child and it was proved that the sperm was of the suspect, Helmut Brinkmann.
Brinkmann was convicted for unnatural sexual offences by the Assistant Sessions Judge, Nutan Sardessai, and awarded rigorous imprisonment for six years. Brinkmann was later acquitted on appeal by the Additional Sessions Judge, D R Kenkre, on seemingly technical grounds.
It is interesting to look at the two judgements, which establishes how the same facts can be given such a diverse interpretation, based on the mind-set of the individual in office. In trial court’s judgement three issues were formulated: Firstly, was the boy kidnapped? – In which case the accused would be liable under Section 363 IPC. Secondly, whether there is proof to convict the accused under Section 373 of the IPC; which pertains to buying or hiring a minor with the intent of or knowing it to be likely that such a person shall be used for either prostitution or illicit intercourse or any purpose which is unlawful or immoral. Thirdly, whether the accused committed unnatural sexual offences punishable under Section 377 of the IPC. The court ruled that there was no evidence of kidnapping, but there was evidence to convict the accused under Sections 373 and 377.
In the appeal court’s judgement the two points formulated were: Firstly, whether the victim boy is an accomplice in commission of the crime and secondly, whether there is evidence to convict the accused under Sections 373 and 377. But while he has ruled that the victim is an accomplice in commission of the crime, he ruled that ‘it is not proved that the guilty was indulging in unnatural offence’.
The judgement contends that to prove that the accused was guilty under Section 373 it was necessary for the prosecution to prove that the accused had carnal intercourse with the victim… and that it was against the order of nature. According to him ‘the prosecution was required to prove Section 377 to prove Section 373’. A basic contention of the judge appears to be that the prosecution failed to establish that the accused had carnal intercourse with the victim. The judge ruled that the testimony of the child has to be corroborated in ‘material particulars’ for it to implicate the accused.
First of all, for a child to talk about being sexually exploited is rare, consequently a child’s testimony needs to be given serious consideration. Moreover, in the judgement passed by Sardessai J. in February 1999 the trial judge viewed the evidence of spermatozoa in the anus as significant, as it was observed that it was not possible for discharge from the penis to fall on the anus of the same person. Kenkre J., however, has stated that ‘discharge from the penis can fall on the anus’ of the same person and has raised doubts about the possibility of sperm surviving for more than 48 hours without being ‘washed out at the time of taking bath or cleaning the anus after natural course’. Sardessai J.’s contention was that it appears improbable that the sperm in the anus could belong to the same person, because of ‘the anatomical position of the anus and the penis’ (to quote Judge Sardessai’s judgement).
Child rights activists were able to convince the State to appeal to the High Court against the decision of the Additional Sessions Court. But when the case came before the High Court child rights activists were aghast to learn that Brinkmann had left the country. The Public Prosecutor while informing the court that he was ‘probably’ not in the country, failed to draw the attention of the judges to the fact that the offender in question was a suspected paedophile.
In another travesty of justice the immigration authorities informed the Goa Police after Brinkmann had left the country in spite of a Look Out Circular against him.
Dominique Sabire Sabire was a Frenchman, aged 61 at the time of his arrest in 1999; an associate of Freddy Peats. A holder of two postgraduate degrees and a writer of bestsellers in French, he was caught at Delhi Airport, where he was in transit on his way to Thailand. There were previous references about his visits to Thailand in his letters. He left the country after jumping bail in February 2000, and continues to abscond. Ironically, the Campaign Against Paedophilia had warned the state of this possibility while conducting a campaign on the Brinkmann case.
Sabire was granted bail on 23 June 1999, but was required to report to the CBI office in Panaji every alternate day. He then made a plea that he be allowed to report to the Calangute Police Station as he was residing in Calangute. He was granted permission to do so from 16 February 2000. From 27 February he stopped reporting at the police station. However, Police Inspector Subhash Goltekar, who was in charge of the Calangute Police Station, informed the Public Prosecutor on 29 March, only 31 days after Sabire had stopped reporting to the Calangute Police Station, giving the Frenchman ample time to escape. Following this act of gross negligence on the part of this police officer, letters were written to the Director General Police demanding his suspension. However, to our knowledge, no action has been taken against him to date.
John Colin MiddletonMiddleton, a 71-year-old Britisher, was arrested on 19 March 2001 from a guest house in Benaulim where he was found with three Nepali children; two 13-year-olds and one 15-year-old, who he had brought with him from Nepal. According to Jan Ugahi and Childline, the organisations that had tipped off the police about the case, this man had a previous conviction for sodomy with a child in New Zealand. However, the Interpol has so far failed to respond to the inquiries of the Goa Police in this matter. Middleton was released on bail on 23 March 2001. His passport was later returned to him and he was allowed to leave the country. Unfortunately questions such as how three minor Nepali children were in his custody staying in the same room as him did not receive the attention they deserved.
In May 2003 the police along with Children’s Rights in Goa entered a hotel room in Calangute, and found Alan Dow with a 13-year-old girl, both skimpily clad and sharing the same bed. But as there was no forensic evidence Dow was allowed to leave the country and no case was registered against him.
From the case descriptions given above it is evident that serious attention needs to be given to the question of what needs to be done to protect children and prosecute paedophiles. In order to facilitate the prosecution of paedophiles the following points need to be realised by state authorities:o Investigation of cases of paedophilia should be given as much importance as cases of dacoity/narcotics and the NGOs should not be expected to do all the investigative work. Police should be motivated to investigate such cases by appropriate incentives, such as it reflecting positively in their service records.
Protocols need to be developed to ensure that paedophiles out on bail are prevented from escaping from the country. It should be a matter of procedure that the police communicate with immigration authorities and foreign embassies to alert them to the fact that the suspected offender should not be allowed to leave the country.
Sensitisation programmes have to be carried out among all those dealing with cases of paedophilia – the police, prosecutors and judges.
Existing laws should be used effectively to deal with cases of paedophilia until comprehensive laws are formulated to deal with cases of child sexual abuse.
Credit for this article goes to – Nishtha Desai, who is a child rights activist working with children in Goa.
I applaud her for her research and input but do not necessarily subscribe to all her viewpoints. For instance, the police need abuse specific education and training, incentives shouldn’t matter.Secondly, there are NO LAWS against CSA and the Goa Children’s Act is a state-specific deterrant which has it’s limitations and loopholes as the aforementioned article clearly points out.
New Delhi, January 3
With more and more skeletons of children being unearthed from the D5 house in Noida’s sector 31, the “lapse in law and order situation” in the area has become the focus of all attention. “What is getting completely overlooked is that, this is a case of child sexual abuse (CSA) of the most macabre kind, and needs professional handling. The police are ill-equipped to handle such complex cases,” says Rajat Mitra, a clinical psychologist researching violent offenders and sex offenders. “The whole extent of the crime,” says Mitra, “has yet not been unearthed.”
“The police have been handling this case as one of serial killing and homicide. But the primary issue here is of CSA, especially because such a large number of children were involved. There is a high possibility of more involvements. The owner-servant duo might be sharing their interest with others and there can be other accused also,” says Mitra.
“Most importantly, missing children are immediately associated with having run away from home,” says Mitra. “Knowledge about CSA is so limited even among the police that they seldom connect a case with CSA,” laments Mitra.
CSA offenders often collect trophies or souvenirs from victims — such as a precious object or possession of the child.
If the police were well-informed or trained about such crimes they would be looking out for evidence of this nature, otherwise they wouldn’t even be able to recognise such evidence, he feels.
According to Mitra, this is primarily a crime committed out of lust. The accused are very organised and plan their acts very professionally. The suspects in these cases need to be professionally interviewed so that they reveal the diabolical planning and their organised network.
He says, as the duo readily confessed to their crimes, it could be possible that they are masking other crimes. It could probably be an ‘escape route’. “The accused should be probed professionally for the full dimension of the case to be unearthed,” demands Mitra.
The extent of tortures that the duo inflicted on the children can be known only through a proper interview.
On most occasions, CSA offenders enjoy sharing their experiences with others and at times, are known to film their acts and watch them with other pedophiles. Even a web camera can be used for this purpose, says the researcher.
“CSA offenders are habitual offenders. This would in all probability not be the only place where they have committed the crime. Moninder Singh is known to have houses in other cities as well,” says Mitra.
He laments, CSA is not recognised in India. There is no documentation and very little reports to go by.
He cites the example of a CSA offender that he interviewed recently, when it gradually came to light that he had abused several other children in other cities. More probing revealed that even missing persons reports had not been lodged for these children.