The rape of small girls on the scale at which it is currently taking place, especially in the north, signifies a breakdown of the ethical order of common living. Do you agree? Suggest solutions. (15 Marks)

Mentors Comments:

  • The question seeks to address the growing issue of the rape incidences and the treatment meted out to the victims by the society in an insensitive manner with lacunae in compassion and empathy.
  • One has to discuss the deteriorating conditions of our society with respect to treating the rape incidents and the victims of such heinous crimes.
  • Begin with a brief introduction to the recent incidents of Kathua and Tappal.
  • Bring out the insensitivity that is prevalent in our society towards such untoward incidents. Explain the root cause behind such a mentality. What needs to be done?
  • Suggest solutions – how can the society evolve out of such unwarranted behavior.
  • Conclude by reasserting the alarming need for our societies to change and move forward.

Answer:

There was a 336% increase in child rape cases from 2001 to 2011. Figures are under-reported as the majority of child rape cases are not reported to the police. Sexual abuse during childhood presents a particularly hard case. It has been recognized all over the world that nothing is tougher to leave behind than sexual assault in early life. When rape is followed by murder, as in the Kathua case, the meaning of justice is quite different. In all such cases, justice seems to mean little more than giving the satisfaction to parents that law will not forget their loss and grief.

A breakdown of the ethical order of common living:

  • The rape of small girls on the scale at which it is currently taking place, especially in the north, signifies a breakdown of the ethical order of common living. 
  • Each incident of rape of a baby or small girl communicates that society is going through a change it does not understand. 
  • Fabric is an apt metaphor to refer to social relations, as they involve the tacit acceptance of a norm to govern the upbringing of children. 
  • Incidents of rape of small girls have been reported from cities as well as villages, suggesting a much wider crisis than traditional wisdom might be able to recognize. 
  • No simple analysis can help us grasp the factors that have enabled the crisis to deepen and erupt. 
  • There can be no doubt that these factors are rooted deep in culture, but they are also tangled now in the new technological environment. 
  • They are being nourished by an ethos marked by an acceptance of casual, collective frenzy.
  • No one will deny that with such violence, the social fabric has ripped apart. 
  • Children cannot grow up and become sane adults unless they feel secure and protected, and parents alone cannot protect a child. 
  • Safety and security during childhood is a responsibility that society as a whole shares with the biological parents. 
  • Therefore, when a child encounters violence, the protective fabric of society shreds. 
  • The responsibility to protect children is embedded in the very idea of society. 
  • When a child faces brutality, in or outside the family, society’s contract with its own spirit is violated. 
  • Punitive justice cannot redeem this contract, although it may constitute the first step towards redeeming the contract and the collective spirit it signifies.
  • In such an environment, society seems to have lost its collective self-awareness. 
  • Forgetting about its responsibility towards children — everyone’s children — is a consequence of the loss of self-awareness. 

Solutions:

  • The need is to develop our society on the modern lines stands as the need of the hour. 
  • Leaving behind the patriarchy and developing a pro-women society will eventually lead to a safer and better society both for women and children.
  • There is a need to reform education – to guide them during their exploration years, to make them understand about the right ethical behavior and to make them understand the difference between good touch and bad touch. 
  • As in most of the cases, rape is committed by people known to the child such as relatives, and neighbors, there is an urgent need for the family to be sensitized, and the deep-rooted attitudes that view them as inferior to men need to be also tacked with.
  • Instead of pursuing drastic remedies, we need to urgently devise ways to bolster the existing criminal justice and child protection systems and ensure higher convictions, higher reporting of offenses, put in place preventive strategies, and address a large number of systemic and operational gaps.
  • At the school level, authorities should check the background and credentials of the job applicants.
  • Children should be made aware of acts like POSCO so as to make them aware of their legal rights.
  • CCTV cameras should be installed in schools and other public places.
  • Community awareness programs should be encouraged to increase awareness among children about the evil of sexual abuse.
  • Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) Act can be amended to allow Child Welfare Committees to receive complaints.
  • Media should play a proactive role and should be prohibited from disclosing the personal identity of the victim categorically in line with the Juvenile Justice Act.
  • Media should be prohibited from reporting the identity of the victim categorically in line with the Juvenile Justice Act.
  • Issues like child marriage should be clearly addressed as there is a contradiction between the POCSO Act and personal law.

Children are the future of the nation and it is needed that they should be prevented from the various types of abuses in school. Plugging gaps injustice system, not the death penalty, can curb child sexual abuse. There is an urgent need to urgently devise ways to bolster the existing criminal justice and child protection systems and ensure higher convictions, higher reporting of offenses, put in place preventive strategies, and address a large number of systemic and operational gaps. There is also a need to revamp the POCSO act.

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