Rapes in India are claiming younger victims and much brutally so. With each passing day, the age of brutality is getting less and less.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, every hour, two girls below the age of 18 years are raped in India.
Open a newspaper, and several headlines scream of rapes of girls as young as 4-10 years old. “Seven-year-old raped and throat slit”, “9-year-old raped and dumped in ditch”, “Man held for raping 10-year-old daughter””are common headlines that have no fixed address of a State.
In the age of free sex videos on the Internet, analysts believe, teenage girls continue to be vulnerable to assault.
The flip side of such videos is that the culprits are also getting younger. Boys as young as 10 download pornography from mobile phone shops for as little as Rs 10.
This is happening in tribal Jharkhand, in macho Haryana, in rural Uttarakhand and in countrysides. One such incident that highlighted the devilish side of internet was the rape of an 8-year-old girl allegedly committed in Sahaspur near Dehradun by five boys, aged between 9 and 14 years, after watching porn.
The same Sahaspur was the scene of a rape of a 10th class girl in a boarding school by her 12th class schoolmates last month, and the school authorities tried to hush up the case.
But Internet alone cannot be blamed for the rising crimes against women. There is no excuse for a lax law and order. Look what happened in Rewari, Haryana last week. A 19-year-old CBSE topper — a recipient of the President’s award for her academic achievements at school– was kidnapped in broad daylight while she was on her way to a coaching class, and allegedly drugged and gang-raped.
It is said that the spot where the incident took place was being used by a gang of local youths for nefarious activities. And one of the prime accused in the gang-rape was part of that gang. None dared to speak against them. Such was the terror they struck in the minds of residents. One is forced to ask: Isn’t this then a reflection on the police force.
Besides, there had also been incidents of girls being harassed by vagabonds at the very spot in the past as well. It seems there was no fear of the law left.
This can be gathered from the fact that soon after the gruesome deed, one of the main accused boasted of his ‘molestation skills’ in his Facebook posts. On top of that, police delayed filing an FIR, citing jurisdictional reasons.
Haryana, a land infamous for honour killings, is getting high on crime. Its millennium city, Gurugram, home to several foreign companies, has become a dangerous city. It has become the most unsafe place for women in Haryana. Its chief minister, Manohar Lal Khattar, himself admits it so.
According to statistics tabled in the Haryana Assembly, Gurugram has topped the table in overall crime rate against women in the State. Between August 2014 and September 2018, as total of 3,768 cases of sexual assault against women was recorded. Of these, 555 cases were of rape and 2,308 of molestation and kidnapping. From January 1 this year till June 30, as many as 95 cases of rape were registered in Gurugram.
Faridabd earned the dubious distinction of being the second most dangerous place in Haryana. Sexual assault cases against women touched 3,440 between August 2014 and September 2018, out of which 352 were cases of rapes and 1,656 of kidnapping and molestation.
Panipat saw a maximum number of 325 kidnappings of girls and women within the State in 2018.
Overall, 1,413 cases of rape, 3,494 kidnappings of women, and 2,320 cases of molestation were lodged across Haryana in the last one year– a 47 per cent spurt in the number of rape cases and more than a 100 per cent jump in cases pertaining to kidnapping of women since September 2014.
In a tribal society of Jharkhand, rape is also becoming ubiquitous. A recent headline, ‘Two minor girls call for help after bike broke down, raped by 11 youths,’ shook many to the core.
It has been seen that even a stringent provision such as a death penalty is no effective deterrent against rape. We have seen this in Delhi and many other States after the 2012 Nirbhaya rape.
In April this year, Rajasthan passed a law providing death penalty to those found guilty of raping a girl below 12 years of age. But in two months since then, 37 minors between 3 and 12 years of age were raped across the State. In Jaipur alone, at least eight minors have been raped in the past three months.
Madhya Pradesh also recently enacted a similar anti-rape law, but crime against children continue unabated. Unless there is quick police action and equally quick disposal of the case, the rapists will continue to rule the roost.>
Yashwardhan Joshi is a Journalist of long standing and commentator on issues of Administration and Social Issues.