Reported cases of sexual abuse against minors have seen an exponential rise over the years. The horrific details of the Kathua and Unnao rape cases where the victims were an eight-year-old and a 16-year-old, respectively, were enough to run a chill down the spine. In fact, as per the NCRB report for the year 2016, states that the crimes against women had gone up 13.6% from 2015, 34.4%.of which were cases under POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act).
Madhya Pradesh, which was the first state to implement the death penalty for people who rape children below the age of 12, has seen a whopping 532% rise in the cases of rapes against minors, that is, from 390 cases in 2001 to 2,467 in 2016.
Another major disturbing trend which has been observed is that more and more juveniles have been committing sexual offences against minors. In the extremely unfortunate Nirbhaya gang rape case, one of the accused was 17 years old.
Horrific cases of juveniles committing sexual offences
On June 30, 2018, a four-year-old girl in Kanpur, who was playing outside her house, was lured by a group of boys to a vacant plot where they raped her. The horror doesn’t end here. Shockingly, the accused were in the age group of 6-12 years. While the victim is still recovering, the accused were produced before a Juvenile Justice Board and have been sent to correctional homes. SSP Kanpur told News18, “The accused were probably watching pornographic content on their phone before committing the crime. However, the matter is still under investigation.”
Last month itself, in Noida, a 13-year-old boy was arrested and sent to a juvenile home, after he abducted and killed a three-year-old child. He had abducted her with an intention to rape, however, after he failed to do so, he ended up killing her. In this case too, the accused apparently viewed pornographic content.
Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan were the topmost states in 2016 from where cases of juvenile committing rape were reported.
A dangerous trend
The Logical Indian spoke to Dr Praveen Tripathi, consultant in Psychiatry and Director, The Renova Care, Noida, to understand what really triggers this kind of dangerous mindset in such young children. Dr Tripathi said, “One of the major reasons is that the children nowadays are exposed to sexual content. With such penetration of the internet into the lives, children are able to see such content and there is no way that the content that they view can be regulated. Even if a mechanism is brought to regulate it, people always find a way around it.”
Dr Tripathi says that kids as young as six-seven years old, as in the Kanpur rape case are still developing understanding, consume all this misinformation and get influenced. “In developed countries, children are provided with sex education, which is lacking in our country. So, there is both lack of information and misinformation that comes into play.”
“Children from a young age need to be taught against treating women as mere objects, and they should be taught to respect them. They should also be educated about proper sexual behaviour and what is inappropriate sexual behaviour, what are the consequences of misbehaviour.”
Dr Tripathi draws attention to a very important point, he says, “In many cases, it is possible that children who commit sexual crimes may themselves be victims of sexual abuse. There have been studies which have in fact proved this.”
When asked whether these kids, who are as young as six years old, understand what they are actually doing, Dr Tripathi said, “A six-year-old may not have this understanding, but being exposed to pornographic content, the child may try to mimic it. Even in this case, these kids might have viewed such content and developed a distorted image in their undeveloped minds. And they may live to think that this is the normal sexual behaviour.”
“It is very important that the teachers and the parents impart sexual education to their kids. Also telling them what kind of healthy behaviour is expected out of them”, Dr Tripathi says.
The Logical Indian take
Sexual offence is in itself a heinous crime and with young children committing such crimes compels us to think whether enough is being done to improve the situation. Young children indulging in such crimes only proves that dealing with it on a superficial level by just sending them to correction homes or even giving them punishment is no solution. Proper sexual behaviour and sex education have to be mandatorily made a part of the curriculum. Teachers and parents should never feel a hesitation in talking about these things with their kids. In this age, where there is an abundance of information, the parents and teachers have to make a choice – whether they themselves teach their children about sex education or let them fall prey to the misinformation that is present just a click away.