Sex crimes in India: lack of recourse plagues victims

Once again demonstrators have taken to the streets of India to protest Indian authorities’ handling of sex crimes. On April 15, a 5-year-old girl was kidnapped from her apartment, raped tortured and left for dead. This comes only months after protesting the gang rape and murder of the 23-year-old student in December 2012.

Two men have been arrested for this horrific crime, Pradeep Kumar and Manoj Kumar, of no relation. Manoj Kumar lived in the same building as the girl. The police report states that he stole her away at 6 p.m. and says that he left after an hour because he thought he had killed her. 

The parents of the girl went to the police to report her missing on Monday but to no avail. The police did not take their complaint seriously and failed to act. The girl was found on Wednesday when she was heard crying, locked up in a room. She was taken to the hospital where doctors told her parents the rapists had used objects such as a candle and a bottle during the assault. She was in critical condition and had to undergo several procedures. Reports say she is now stable and on the road to recovery.

The parents of the girl have told reporters that police offered them 2,000 rupees, equal to $37, to keep quiet about what had happened. 

“They just wanted us to go away,” the father stated. “They didn't want to register a case even after they saw how badly our daughter was injured.”

Understandably, this grotesque crime and the handling of it by the police disgust the people of India. Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar said in a statement, “There have been shortfalls, so the station house officer and his deputy have been suspended” – a nonapology at best.

According to ABC News more than 90,000 children go missing in India each year. The National Crime Records Bureau reported that in 2011, 34,406 missing children are never found.

The Asian Center for Human Rights reported that 48,338 cases of child rape were reported in India from 2001 to 2011. The annual report of cases has tripled: In 2001, 2,113 were reported, compared to 7,112 in 2011. The report then noted that these numbers do not come close to the true number of child rape cases, for the majority of cases are not reported. 

Protestors are demanding change. The fact is that both the government and the police force are failing to protect the people. Hundreds of people protested outside police headquarters in the capital this weekend demanding change, and for the Delhi police chief to be removed from office and the full dismissal of the officers involved in the case. 

That a police officer attempted to bribe the family to keep quiet after their daughter was raped is sickening. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said at a meeting on Sunday April 21, “The gruesome assault on the little girl a few days back reminds us once again of the need to work collectively to root out this sort of depravity from our society.” 

These words do nothing to alleviate the pain this girl has gone through. How can the issue of rape be stopped if even those in power fail to take it seriously and act swiftly?

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