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Friday, December 8, 2023

Is Our Legal Framework Less Concerned About Sexual Crimes?

The details of this horrible sexual crime against a 10 year old child can send chills down the spine of any concerned citizen, more so the citizens who are parents too. The incident happened in Uttar Pradesh and this news report begins with :

“A day after a 10-year-old girl was found gang raped and brutally murdered – her hands and head chopped off – from her neighbor’s house, it has emerged that the prime accused, 22-year-old Saleem alias Chhotu, had spent four years in jail for raping an eight-year-old in 2012 and had come of prison recently.”

This ghastly news opens up a a series of points for debate – it hints at the mass deterioration of self – imposed restraint in the society, it hints that the brutality inflicted on the children and women during sexual violation (of any kind) is becoming too common and not showing any signs of containment. It also hints that either the adopted behavioral alteration/ rehabilitation techniques are not working and or are not being implemented properly. It also means that the punishment verdicts given to proven convicts seem to be grossly insufficient to deter them. Not only this, it also hints that our education and political system are unable to impart value based education as on today.

With the number of women being stalked and eventually murdered for not agreeing to the advances of interested men, or the number of children being sexually abused and then murdered, becoming common in even the urban areas of the land where the density of population and police vigilance is apparently high, one is forced to raise the question – why are rapists and molesters not feeling deterred even if jailed? The urge to release sexually and the sadistic pleasure of murdering a physically weaker woman or a child seem to outdo the punishment these rapists are subjected to. A jail term for few years where the state feeds them doesn’t seem a deterrent enough. Though some are jailed for life, but unless a victim dies, a convicted rapist is released after a few years with the pent up energy and there is no real assessment of his behavioral and mindset change. Unless behavioral rehabilitation can be determined to a certain confident measure (even then there is no certainty of ‘no relapse’), is it ok to release the rapists on bail? or release them finally after serving 7 or 10 years in prison?

May be, when this rapist i.e. Saleem was convicted in 2012 for raping a minor, the POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act) 2012 was yet to be effected in practice. But then, lets look at IPC 375 and IPC 376 which were / should have been most commonly used for sexual offenses on children before POCSO. Rape or sexual molestation of a girl under 12 years of age should have attracted at least a minimum of 7 years of rigorous punishment in 2012 before POCSO. Or the judge decided to just implicate going by IPC 354 or so, which are milder and prescribe just about 2 years of punishment and / or fine? We have not been given the details yet.

So, this rapist Saleem should have at least been inside the jail for 7 years if he had indeed raped an 8 year old in 2012 as per the news reports, but he came out happily in 4 years only to rape another 10 year old and this time, he decided to get accomplices to make it a gang rape and end it with chopping off her body!

Another news report explains this ghastly incident :

“In a shocking act of inhumanity in Uttar Pradesh’s Bareily’s Kameri tehsil, a 10-year-old girl was gang raped and then brutally murdered with her hands and head chopped off. What makes the incident even more shocking that the alleged perpetrator of the crime is a man who managed to walk out of prison for a similar crime.

The incident came to light when the prime accused’s father was found sitting on a cot, with the girl’s mutilated body, covered in a cloth, lying underneath. Police said the victim, a student of class II, had gone out on Sunday evening to buy a notebook.

While the accused’s father and his wife have been arrested, Saleem and his cousin Junaid, his partner in crime, are on the run. All the four accused have been booked under the National Security Act and other sections of the IPC.”

Not that giving a ‘shorter’ punishment or ‘reducing’ the punishment for raping a child is illegal. But going by what is mentioned in these laws, judges can only give a reduced punishment citing ‘adequate and special reasons’ in the judgment. The rapist must have been 18 years old when he committed the previous crime, if he is 22 now. Was the rapist not even considered to go through psychological assessment before release? Shouldn’t such criminals be kept under vigilance for a few months post release? Is vigilance for few months even practically possible for such crimes and a country with such large population like ours? These are the questions that need answers. One of the effective ways to reform such mindsets is imposition of dharmic therapeutic lifestyle right from first day of prison. This essentially means yoga, meditation and engagement in a constructive hobby of choice.

What is even more horrible is, this rapist Saleem’s parents and cousin were the accomplices in the gang rape. What kind of a family misdirects its own youth and even participates in such a horrible cover up! Is the family endorsement of rape and participation in murder more common in a certain community? Of course, every family fights for its children legally, whether the children have committed the crime or not. That is different, that cannot be termed as participation in a barbaric cover-up like chopping and disposing off body parts.

Lets examine another case. Important parts of this news report are :

Bathinda Police Wednesday arrested the man accused of chopping off the hands of a teenager who allegedly raped his seven-month-old daughter in 2014. 

Police added that the rape victim’s father confessed that after Tuesday’s court hearing was postponed, he had proposed a compromise, and also offered to drop the teenager home on his motorbike.

“He offered him a drink mixed with an intoxicant on the ride back. The victim was not in his senses when his hands were chopped off,” said SP Bikramjeet, adding that police had reached the spot within 20 minutes of the crime and rushed the victim to the Bathinda civil hospital.

In April 2014, the 17-year-old was allegedly caught red-handed by the rape victim’s mother, while assaulting their daughter. An FIR was registered on the same day on the mother’s complaint.

The teenager was released on bail three months after the crime.’

Going by the typical Bollywood macho-ism, the victim’s father may have done the right thing. But what is most surprising is, why was this minor accused, who tried to rape merely a 7 month old child, not sent to juvenile home for at least a period of few years instead of been given a bail with no vigilance? Was he psychologically assessed before been given bail? For sure, our legal framework needs reforms.

Material progression cannot control psychologically related sexual crimes, the statistics of rape and pedophilia in developed countries are an indication. This needs a multi-faceted strategy – value based education and dharmic therapeutic lifestyle of yoga and meditation are need of the hour. On the other hand – law, judiciary and policy-making need to be much more concerned and stringent in dealing with sexual crimes, specially against children.

Let us try harder to save our children from barbaric assaults!


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Garima Aggarwal
Garima Aggarwal
Working with HinduPost as Editor, ex-retail professional. Twitter id : @agg_garima


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