Monday, 3 March 2014

Sex crimes against minor girls on rise in Ahmedabad

TNN | Feb 27, 2014, 03.35AM IST

AHMEDABAD: In August last year, a nine-year-old girl - the child of high-ranking government employees - was sexually assaulted by the family's 37-year-old domestic help. The horror took place in an underground parking facility where the domestic help had lured the girl on the pretext of showing the flooding caused by rainwater. The compassion and support of her parents encouraged the traumatized girl to break her silence. The accused was later arrested by Vastrapur police.

Officials of Childline, a pan-India NGO working for child rights, said that over the years the number of such cases had increased manifold in the city. Officials said that the trend had been revealed by the increase in the number of cases registered with police.

Purnima Gupta, the assistant director of Childline (Ahmedabad), told TOI that 35 cases were reported last year; the number was only four two years ago. "Last year's cases include three gang rapes. In one of the most shocking cases, four 11-year-old boys raped a four-year-old girl in Danilimda," she said. "Also last year, a city-based 45-year-old man 'purchased' a 16-year-old girl from Delhi for marriage. The survivors came from both rich and poor families, and their age range is from four years to 17 years."

Gupta said that in most cases, the perpetrators were known to the survivors. "Sometimes, the victims are so young that they don't even realize what is happening to them," she said. "The assault comes to light only when parents notice the obvious signs. We believe that not all cases are registered with police because of the stigma."

Organizations like Childline conduct classes for children to help them tell the 'good touch' from the 'bad touch' and also help parents learn the signs of depression. Psychologists say that the scars of such traumas don't vanish easily and frequent counseling is required.

Anil Pratham, the inspector general of police, CID (crime), said that efforts had been initiated to raise awareness about the dangers to children and to ensure better coordination among agencies handling such cases. Pratham said to tackle the problem of the lack of counselors, a district-level committee of volunteers had been formed. The committee will work with police and NGOs.

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