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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.
Ongoing discussion – http://www.orkut.com/CommMsgs.aspx?cmm=24455884&tid=2568922879391121981&na=4
A young Adivasi girl was stripped and photographed running for protection as onlookers whipped out their ever-handy camera phones and took photographs, videos and mms clips.. another sign of technology at it’s mis-used best.
One wouldn’t consider this as Sexual Abuse really.
Publicly exposing a young girl – she was completely naked.
The onlookers did not have good intentions on their minds when they were taking those photographs.
Further information –
We do not have concrete proof of this yet but it is alleged that the girl was sexually assaulted. Given the circumstances, it is not impossible.
Shame on whoever is responsible for this. We refuse to upload the currently available photograph of the girl for reasons of journalistic integrity.
It is unfortunate that even the most widely-circulated Kolkata daily, “The Telegraph” did not blur out her face, even though it blur out her personal body parts.
Three examples of why online safety is recommended.
The aforementioned examples, although of cases not based in India, could very well be in India soon. As a matter of fact, they are occuring in local schools without the knowledge of parents and teachers.
A few years ago, a young student of St. *’s School, Kolkata, began meeting middle-aged men whom he discovered via online chat rooms. The men would meet him at his home, or theirs, and sexually abuse him.
A friend intervened and claimed to have “cured” him of his “homosexuality” and the matter was closed. The boy, now a confused young man, is unsure of his future and is reported to be scouting around online for the only solace he knows.
A young girl who had previously lived in a repressed social atmosphere, discovered freedom over the internet for the first time. She began communicating with a vengeance, “making friends” with everybody and even posting her personal cellphone number with semi-nude photographs on her online profile. It wasn’t long before she began receiving solicitations that went beyond coffee invitations.
There are so many cases, all in India. Unless the media and society wake up to the fact that it does happen to their own people in this very country, it will continue to be a sad, repressed, pressure-cooker like existence for these victims of online sexual abuse who’s fate and post-abuse trauma is similar to those who face regular abuse.
There’s nothing remotely new or shocking about the concept of teachers taking advantage of students.
You might want to educate yourself to the fact that some students try taking advantage of teachers as well.
Teachers have crushes on students and vice versa (Dylan anyone?)..
Murshidabad URL – http://telegraphindia.com/1071108/asp/bengal/story_8525018.asp
Orkut has been duly updated for comments and input.
I recall a particularly handsome male tutor-slash-musician-slash-relative whom i never crushed on personally (too old), but my friends went nuts over him like he was Jim Morrison. It was silly the way they’d queue up to go to his classes just to sit and stare at him while he taught ( he was a good teacher btw), some people even claimed that he reciprocated their emotions. Yuch.
Then there was another female tutor. Lord help anyone who got on the wrong side of her at any time of the day. She gave “volatile” a new dimension altogether, but for money and male students, it was all toned down to a degree that although there wasn’t a free show on in front of your face, you just knew something was wrong.
There’s a teacher at a famously “vigilant” college who is famed for more than his erm, educational prowness. Everyone knows. The girls blog and write odes to him quite shamelessly. 🙂
There’s another teacher at the same college who has a reputation for a little more than just odes on a blog by a student. No matter how many insults i get for writing this, i will do so – student-teacher abuse.
When are student-teacher relationships non-abusive ?
For one, when both are adults! Preferably when they are not in that uncomfortable hierarchy of “me teacher, you student” and that creates an automatic imbalance in the relationship, like it or not. Keeping it out of the classroom would help.
Sweet and sexy
Cases like that of Lina Sinha, the New York school principal who was sentenced to a jail term by a US court for having sex with a 13-year-old boy, are common in India, discovers Padmaparna Ghosh
hyhyhyAkshay was a reluctant traveller and he picked the last seat on the bus to prove his point. He sat sulking by the window, unlike his other classmates, wild with the excitement that’s usual for 16-year-olds. But excitement he got. When Sheena, the 24-year-old trip organiser, picked the seat next to him, the trip just got better.
Over the next couple of days, Sheena made sure they shared the same lonely loft in the vacation camp. And, of course, they shared more than just dirty jokes and teen talk. Sheena got her pick and Akshay got his kick. Sounds like a fun trip, but it’s not.
Incidents of adult women indulging in sexual relationships with minor males, shockingly, are not skeletons in the cupboard anymore. Especially now, with Lina Sinha (picture on right), a 40-year-old NRI school principal, who was sentenced to a 14-year jail term by a US court for having sex with a 13-year-old.
The most common male reaction to “Lusty Lina’s” amorous activities was, “Wow, why didn’t I know her when I was 13.” But experts warn that it’s not funny. Sexual abuse of young boys is no more a fantasy. It is a reality that parents have to deal with. “Right after the Lina story, I read a story about a woman abusing a nine-year-old boy in Chennai. Suddenly, they are coming out of the woodwork,” says Vidya Reddy, programme facilitator, TULIR-Centre for the Prevention and Healing of Child Sexual Abuse.
But who are these women? The most commonly held notion of a woman abuser is of a powerful, independent predator, who skulks around in dark alleys, waiting to pounce on unsuspecting boys. But it might be a misplaced idea. “It is a wrong notion. Powerful women have a lot of other options. Mostly women abusers are close relatives, domestic help, parents’ friends etc,” says Neelam Matai, programme manager, Save the Children, India.
Most psychiatrists and social workers agree. It is no secret that most abusers enjoy a trusting relationship with the victim. In fact, a 2007 report on child abuse by the ministry of women and child health says that sexual abuse is more prevalent in upper and middle class families. Also, among respondents, 48 per cent of boys and 39 per cent of the girls faced sexual abuse.
“It is very common in Mumbai,” says Matai. “Older women would lure young boys from the nearby slums, feed them, make them happy and then take them to Mumbai local platforms or trains and exploit them. On each of our night rounds, we found many. It is increasingly coming out in the open in Delhi also.”
Reddy though cautions that it is dangerous to profile an abuser as they could come from any walk of life and there really is no way to recognise an abuser by characteristics, though past patterns of behaviour can be used as a cautionary measure. But it is hard to say whether such incidents are on the rise or if they are just getting reported more. Matai adds that reporting of such abuse is low.
The case of Suraj, a nine-year-old boy who was being sexually exploited by a classmate’s mother, came to light because of an observant mother. Intervention by Swanchetan, a Delhi-based non governmental organisation that supports victims of abuse, finally discovered the truth. “After interviewing both of them, we found that the woman was sexually abusing the boy. The boy is in counselling with us,” says Rajat Mitra, director, Swanchetan.
Suraj, however, did not think of telling his mother about his relationship because he knew it wasn’t right. He trusted his abuser implicitly. Also, having recently lost his father, he saw the relationship as an antidote to his grief. “It is very common for older women to take advantage of children emotionally and physically. In Suraj’s case, she filled in the void left by his father’s death,” explains Mitra. Also, many abusers do not view it as a crime, as they are women.
Sheena, for instance, is unapologetic about her “fling” with Akshay. “The moment was right and it wasn’t emotional. He called the week after to talk about his exams and I really didn’t care. That was the end of it,” she explains. Even Suraj’s abuser told Mitra, “Why don’t you look at my life and me as a victim?”
Mitra explains that mostly such relationships are power games. “Abusers view themselves as victims and sometimes they are. They exploit others to gain complete control over a minor to rid themselves of the victimisation,” says Mitra.
Neither do many of the victims view themselves as such. Elaan, a Calcutta-based organisation dealing with child abuse, is currently counselling a 14-year-old boy who is “involved” with a 47-year-old woman, his teacher. According to its founder, Pranaadhika Sinha, the boy had approached Elaan seeking guidance. “He didn’t really consider himself to be a victim of abuse. In fact, his friends consider him to be a ‘human God’ having a relationship with an older woman and a teacher,” explains Sinha. The “relationship” started with the teacher not only giving him tuition but expensive gifts, including music and films. The child is also doing very well in school.
But Sinha points out that the abuse can lead to severe psychological disorder in the future, including his inability to have relationships with women his own age. “It’s also about conditioning. Boys grow up, knowing that they are sexually more powerful and they are usually the abusers and not the victims,” explains Matai.
Ripples of an abusive relationship in the childhood can be felt throughout one’s life. “The effects can be myriad. From lack of assertiveness, avoidance of confrontational situations, post-traumatic syndrome, self esteem issues, depression — all of these can fester,” says Samir Parikh, chief, department of mental health and behavioural sciences, Max Health. But frequently, while in the relationship, boys might not understand that they are being abused. Adolescence is rife with sexual experimentation and a nascent awareness of one’s sexuality. “During this time of experimentation, it could be that the child also longs for attention and excitement. Then, it is very easy to fall prey to abuse,” says Mitra.
Also, because social mores espouse the dominance of males over females, minor boys don’t realise it when they are the victims. That is just the scenario in one of the cases Sinha is dealing with, of a 12-year-old boy and his 52-year-old woman teacher. She cooks for him, buys him presents and gives him great marks. And they have sex.
“When boys are abused, they don’t often feel like victims, but like the abuser. He feels he is exerting power over her and she makes him feel like she is taking care of him, physically and emotionally,” says Debashis Ray, a Kolkata-based psychiatrist. He adds, “Young boys are also less likely to report sexual abuse because it will be perceived as a weakness.”
Not just socially, legally also child sexual abuse of boys is given short shrift. In India, sexual harassment falls under the purview of section 354 of the Indian Penal Code, which is referred to as “Violation of a woman’s modesty.” But what happens if the victim is a boy? Child sexual abuse, on the other hand, is covered by section 375 of the IPC, which deals with rape. But most child abuse workers agree that rape is not the only abuse a boy can go through. “There are a million other ways a child can be exploited. Let’s hope the Offences against Children bill will cover all sexual acts against children in a gender neutral manner,” says Reddy. The bill might come up in the monsoon Parliamentary session.
Experts agree that legally, socially or physically, childhood has to be protected, whether of a boy or a girl. While it is true that the latter are more at risk, boys are equally vulnerable. And if steps are not taken to fight abuse, boys might never be boys again.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY REENA MARTINS IN MUMBAI AND DOLA MITRA IN CALCUTTA
I don’t know Paromita from The Hindu personally as yet, but this article definitely took guts to print.
Lois is someone who has had an impact on research and healing techniques, and also on me (Chennai Feb 2007) . Her contribution to the field of CSA and Incest awareness in India has been immense and we look forward to hosting her sometime in the near future.
Why is it so difficult to acknowledge the obvious ? Sex is a natural process. If it remains shrouded in secrecy it will have adverse consequences as it already has.
The recent Nithari update is that Moninder Singh Pandher is to be let off, innocent of all charges while his servant and accomplice, Surendra, is to take the blame.
It would be helpful to mention here that had there been legislation against CSA and Incest, acts like Moninders and people with his rap sheet would be serving terms without question or debate.
Ok 1997 was a decade ago, things have changed since then.
Or have they really ??
To Think The Unthinkable
The judiciary, like the rest of society, dangerously downplays the reality of child sexual abuse
Wives who make allegations of sexual abuse of their children by their husbands suffer from “some peculiar psychiatric condition”. The alleged sexual abuse of an “infant child (who would have just passed her suckling stage then)” is a “seemingly incredulous” accusation to make. An allegation of child sexual abuse by a mother will be “concocted to wreak her vengeance” on her husband.
The medical examinations carried out at the behest of a mother which reveal “a wide vaginal opening—wider than would be expected of their age group” will at most support the probability of “what a mother might do with the little female child for creating evidence of sex abuse”.
“A father is a father…and even if he is a bad father he still has the right to his children…”
THESE are no old wives’ tales. These are the observations, made by the Supreme Court, on wives, tormented children and allegedly abusive husbands. Uttered as observations in the Satish Mehra versus Delhi administration case filed by the former—challenging his wife’s allegation that he had repeatedly sexually abused their eight-year-old daughter from age three onwards—these words speak of a typical judicial attitude towards cases of child sexual abuse.
“Instead of addressing the legal and social problems related to child sexual abuse, such observations coming from the country’s apex court reaffirm the myths about the heinous crime,” says Maya Ganesh of Sakshi, an NGO working with women and children in the area of violence. Verdicts such as these, the agitated activist points out, only add to the outdated beliefs that a mother who accuses her husband of this crime either doesn’t sexually satisfy her husband, wants to take revenge on him, is insane, or doesn’t take care of her children. “It’s quite a task anyway to convince people that bus conductors, drivers and domestic help are not the only ones who abuse children. That this is a crime that has children suffering in many apparently ‘normal’ homes. It would certainly help if the judges didn’t feel the same way too,” she says.
Unfortunately, the hope seems misplaced. Even as the National Commission for Women conducts a National Consultation on Sexual Exploitation of Children in Goa this week with ministers and justices as speakers, a survey conducted by Sakshi just last year had 50 per cent of the 109 judges questioned from all over the country saying that child sexual abuse is not a common crime. They felt that the offence exists only amongst “uneducated, depressed and over-sexed people and/or people with a prostrate gland problem”. A 48 per cent of the judges felt the perpetrators of such crime were not from within the family, but strangers and domestic help. Comforting beliefs, perhaps, but ones that are easily shattered even with the very meagre documentation done on the subject in the country. Bangalore-based NGO Samvada’s study—titled Preliminary Report of a Workshop Series and Survey on Childhood Sexual Abuse of Girls—carried out with 348 girls from schools and colleges in the city revealed that 83 per cent of the respondents had experienced some form of sexual abuse.
Two-thirds of the victims said their abusers were known to them, the majority of them being male members from the family.
THE case then is hardly overstated when the judiciary and the executive are asked to recognise that child sexual abuse is a grave reality that needs urgent attention. “The entire system—the judiciary included—has to do its bit towards finding a solution. There should be a ruling making sex education mandatory in our schools. A child should be taught to differentiate a good touch from a bad one,” observes Sana Das of Samvada.
Till that happens, however, it is left to the judiciary to interpret touches and decide on the nature of offences. Which interpretations, often, are appalling. In the case of the government under-secretary, who was accused of repeated sexual abuse of his daughter, the abuse involved vaginal and anal penetration with a finger and forcing the child to have oral sex. Neither the district court, nor the high court or the Supreme Court was willing to acknowledge any of the penetrations as rape. The district court ruled in the CBI versus K.C. Jhaku case: “The word ‘penetration’ does not connote penetration of any foreign object. There must be penetration of the male organ, and that too in the vagina, otherwise, the act would constitute a carnal intercourse.”
“The problem with the existing law on child sexual abuse is that there is no existing law on the subject,” says lawyer Niti Dikshit. The absence of a separate law on child abuse means that sexual assault on minors is tried under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which makes the crime punishable for being “voluntary intercourse against the order of nature”. Moreover, the minimum sentence for rape is 10 years while the maximum sentence under Section 377 is 10 years.
“What of the minor boy who is being forced into oral sex or the girl child who is being fondled and used as an object to masturbate…we always need a sympathetic judge to interpret the law favourably. We could do with a solid law,” argues the lawyer.
THIS vagueness regarding the crime spills into police stations that are sought as the first refuge by harassed victims of the crime. The lack of specialised cells for a crime that needs to be treated sensitively has most such victims coming into the Crime Against Women Cell (CAWC). “We hardly have any investigative powers to deal with this crime. Nor do we have any counsellors to handle the complainants,” admits deputy commissioner S.S. Grewal of Delhi’s CAWC.
“We often end up asking harsh questions but then we are not trained in the field.”
The absence of trained professionals in the police stations and the courts while these cases are on, insists child psychiatrist Vinay Kshetrapal, can be detrimental to the mental health of the victim who is already traumatised. “Disbelieving questions and harsh attitudes can ruin a child’s confidence when he or she has just about mustered enough courage to speak out the unspeakable,” says Kshetrapal. He insists that all such cases abroad are conducted with a counsellor monitoring the mental health of the minor victim.
“Sympathy is an imperative in this case.”
So are laws.
As also a healthy judicial attitude.
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.