Statistics seem to indicate that the numbers of minors who are rape victims are on the rise in the national capital. Over the past few months alone several cases have been reported where minors, even as young as 10-12 months, were rape victims.
Explaining the possible reasons for the rise in such incidents, Anuja Kapoor, a criminal psychology expert and the Special Police Officer (SPO), North-west district, Delhi Police, said, “We live in a world where a victim is blamed for being a victim. This attitude is changing. Whatever had been happening earlier within four walls is now coming out in the open. Awareness is certainly one reason why victims now feel more confident about reporting such crimes.”
“A person is not born a pedophile. Even though Cesare Lombroso gave the theory that criminality is inherited. But like me, many others in the field of criminal psychology believe that criminality is a learned trait. Humans learn from the environment they live in,” said Kapoor.
A study on child sexual abuse carried out by Save the Children and Tulir (Centre for the Prevention & Healing of Child Sexual Abuse), an NGO, in 2006 looked at the prevalence and dynamics of child sexual abuse among school going children in Chennai. The study revealed that out of 2211 respondents, 42% children faced at least one form of sexual abuse or the other. Among respondents, 48% of boys and 39% of the girls faced sexual abuse. The prevalence of sexual abuse in the upper and middle classes was found to be proportionately higher than in the lower or lower middle classes. Majority of the abusers were people known to the child. Sexual harassment in public places and exhibitionism was higher by strangers and sexual abuse of children was very often a pre-planned insidious abuse of a relationship by an abuser over the child.
“There are cases where child sexual abuse is done purely for self-gratification. But there are other cases too. Imagine a pedophile living among kids who does not want to succumb to his urges. If we could move outside our prejudices and help these people, such incidents might actually be avoided. This can be done if we have more counselors and there are centers similar to the rehabilitation centers for substance abusers that can help a potential offender from committing crime,” said Kapoor.
Swati Maliwal Jaihind, Chairperson, Delhi Commission for Women, said, “The low conviction rate in crimes against women and children is a major factor why we haven’t been able to hold back perpetrators. The Delhi Police data shows that out of 11,000 cases registered under crimes against women, conviction was done only in 9 cases, over a year.”
“Other than that we need counseling centers for victims, for perpetrators and for potential offenders as well. Right now, our first aim is to establish a High Level Committee in which all major stakeholders like the Police Commissioner, Chief Minister, Minister of State for Home Affairs etc. meet at least once in two months to acknowledge the prevailing problems and discuss possible solutions.”