Srinagar: Minors seem to be the prime victims of sexual assault as data of rape cases over the past two-and-a-half years has revealed. Most victims fall in the age group of 3 to 11 years.
Data available with the fast track court at the Srinagar lower court has shown that in the 65 sexual assault cases registered since 2015, the victims in almost 50 percent are minors, the youngest victim being three years old and the eldest 73.
The fast track court was, as its name suggests, set up by the government to hasten trial in such cases. However, many experts say that minors should be barred from court proceedings as they may sustain further emotional and psychological harm. Even victims of older age groups should also not be called for court proceedings.
What the Experts Say
Paediatric specialist Dr Altaf Hussain told Kashmir Reader, “For the last 10 years, the patients I have received have completely perplexed me. The young children coming to consult me are falling ill mainly because of stress and the violence done against them.
“In my career, I have seen sexual assault patients whom it was very difficult to treat. Such occurrences are now a common weapon against defenceless children. While measures must be taken to end this, we have no centers for paediatric psychology where we can counsel these young patients, so traumatised at the very outset of their lives. But, unfortunately, we are lacking on that front too.”
Nighat Shafi Pandit, a social worker, said, “These cases have been witnessed for many years now. Minors are easy targets for offenders as they hardly know what is going to happen with them. So there is a need for rehabilitation and giving these children an atmosphere where they can live their lives without fear of violence of any sort.”
In 2012, a minor victim was allegedly molested by his father, one Gulzar Ahmed Khanday, who used to live in a rented building at Batmaloo.
The case was brought to the notice of the police by the landlady who witnessed the horrific incident. During the course of the investigation, the police seized the clothes of the victim and the bed cover and later arrested the accused in FIR No. 48/2012, Police Station Batmaloo.
The minor had been living with his father following his parents’ separation and his mother’s subsequent remarriage. After the crime, the accused has been in Central Jail, Srinagar, for the past five years. The court sent the minor to a Srinagar orphanage as there was no relative to look after him. The case is still awaiting disposal.
Another child assault victim was kidnapped by a driver named Vijay Kumar Sharma from a hotel in Khayam. The accused had removed the child’s clothes but was seen by locals who smashed his car windows to prevent the crime. An FIR, no.14/2016, was lodged at Khayam Police Station under sections 363, 376 and 511 CrPC.
The medical report says the victim had visible marks on her legs but intercourse had not taken place. The court in this case has recorded witnesses and but the matter is yet to be disposed of.
There is an urgent need to generate awareness around these issues, and the children who have been isolated for this cruel treatment need to be welcomed with open arms and hearts.