A crime most heinous

Molestation of children is the most cruel of all crimes, because it leaves a wound on the victim that time doesn't heal.

Molestation of children is the most cruel of all crimes, because it leaves a wound on the victim that time doesn’t heal. It robs a child of all the colours his/her life. Any such incident disturbs the society the most. The worst part is that the offender is not exposed in most cases, let alone getting convicted. Even if a child plucks up the courage and tells his/her family what happened, many parents keep it a secret because the offender is a family member. Considering this, the Women and Child Development Ministry proposed to remove the time limit for reporting child sexual abuse cases and the Law Ministry has agreed to it. Earlier, such cases had to be filed within three years of the incident. According to the new endorsement, the victim can report the case at any time and law enforcement agencies are duty-bound to take proper actionson the complaints.

Considering the fact that many children carry the trauma resulting from the abuse till very late in life, doesn’t the move feel like a refreshing one? Will the move result in a drop in the number of such cases? Will it urge the victims to speak up and overcome the trauma?

Give the victims a chance
Renjith George, social activist

Yes, I bel-ieve this new move is a really good one because in most cases, the victim is abused over a period of time; it’s not just one incident. Besides, they are too young to realise what has happened to them. I believe this move will help victims gain the courage to speak up once they are ready to do so. These children, whose innocence was taken advantage of, should not be denied an opportunity to fight back. As a social activist working among destitute children for the past 18 years, I have encountered many such persons and they have told me about the mental trauma they had undergone which still haunts them. I believe if genuine cases are taken up by the authorities and more awareness is created on the new law among people, there will be a reduction in such cases. In my sincere opinion, the law should be enforced to save our children. I believe child abuses are result of the collective failure of our society. So why not give the victims a chance?

A positive step
Keshav Soni, wealth manager

Close your eyes and imagine a child playing joyfully, gazing at the world with amazement and the purest smile on this green earth. It’s the only heaven readily accessible to us. Now imagine that heaven being turned into hell with sexual abuse. It is an exploitation of innocence and physical disadvantage, which is perceived as an opportunity by the abuser. Childhood should always be carefree, playing in the sun; not living a nightmare in the darkness of the soul. Child abuse has always been a problem without a solution, with distressing case after case accumulating in public awareness without apparent end.

Victims of child sexual abuse often face problems in registering an FIR once they are 18 years of age or more. Maneka Gandhi, WCD minister, has urged the law minister to allow people to lodge their complaint even after 10-15 years and the same has been endorsed by the law minister.

It is a positive step towards restriction of child abuse but many more educational and compliance measures are required to completely eradicate it as one believes in things because one has been conditioned to believe in them.

Onus is on parents
Rajney Pradhan, parent

Majority of child abuse cases do not get reported because the child becomes a victim of a trustworthy person, maybe a family member, a friend or a teacher. The child is shy and embarrassed or scared to share this with the parents. He doesn’t know what to say, he is scared because the perpetrator has a close connection with the family, so no one would trust him. And at times perpetrator would give repeated threats and child’s mind can’t rationalise things, he is too young for that. I think parents should talk to their kids; they should develop a kind of trust. Parents should teach their kids what is private and should not be touched. Parents should build a confidence that talking about such things is not a taboo and they can anytime walk up to their parents to report if anything goes wrong. At the same time, parents should also trust their kids and though there will be no proof of what the child is saying, it doesn’t mean they’ll wait for something to happen on big grounds. Parents should take action on the first voice raised by the child.

Key role for government
Shekhar Vijayan, motivational speaker

It’s a welcome move and it’s imperative that action should be taken right away on the perpetrator. There should also be fast-track courts in place. The offender should be named and shamed in public and also be asked to financially rehabilitate for the mental trauma the victim has undergone. The government has a very important role to play and should ensure that they create the safety umbrella for the victims to come in and talk, share their grievances and this has to be handled in an extremely sensitive manner.

Memory gets confused
Dr Mamta Shah, psychologist

Child sexual abuse cases are little complicated as the child is not completely aware of what is happening and doesn’t seek help. Over years an understanding develops as the child matures and the knowledge of sexual abuse surfaces.

This can lead to post traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and a deep sense of guilt with shame of not doing anything about it. These children may develop a reaction to sexuality or hypersexuality leading to promiscuity in later life. Other symptoms seen are mistrust of adults, suicidal ideation, self-image issues, sleep difficulties, severe mood fluctuations etc. The main issue is that with time, memory can often become confused. Hence, before seeking justice, a period of psychotherapy can help in clearing the confusions.

Proper probe needed
Sudha Ramalingam, activist

Relaxing the period to report and take cognizance of such henious crimes is necessary. At the same time, it is essential that every complaint should be investigated and tried fairly.

Such extension of time will act as a better deterrent than it is now. A probable abuse need not be a concern as sufficient safeguards could be taken by a free and fair trial.

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