Offence(s) against Minors: The Untreated Cancer in J&K

Offence(s) against Minors: The Untreated Cancer in J&K
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By Muzamil Bashir

According to the report on the “Study of Child Abuse” conducted in 2007 by the Ministry of Women and Child development, 52.3 % of India’s children have been sexually assaulted which means one in every two children is subjected to sexual abuse before they reach the age of 18. Child abuse which was alien to state of J&K engulfed the state also like a wild fire.
Recently, a government school teacher was arrested for allegedly raping a 17 year old minor girl in North Kashmir’s Baramulla. In another case, a mentally retarded girl was raped by a 45 year old man in North Kashmir. There are number of other such cases that happened in the recent past. These events that were unheard of in J&K have begun flourishing like a cancerous tumor in the state. No place seems to be safe for children (not even schools)
The brutal rape and murder of an eight year old girl in Kuthua shook the conscience of the entire world, including J&K. It proved as a catalyst for need of stringent laws against child offences in the J&K state. The demand for strict legislation to curb the crimes against the children compelled the state Government to pass an ordinance on child offences.
Under J&K Protection of Children from Sexual Violence 2018 ordinance, death penalty/life imprisonment will be awarded for sexual offences against children up to the age of 12 years. Investigations of cases have to be completed within two months and trial to be completed in six months.
Jammu and Kashmir Protection of Children from Sexual Violence act (JKPCSVO) Act, 2018 besides other measures also includes setting up of fast track courts with speedy investigation of the cases. There is a provision of involvement of female police officers to investigate the rape cases. The time frame set up for such cases has been set to two months.
The ordinance moved by state cabinet was a historic initiative in the journey of fight against the child offences. But, the inefficient implementation and insufficient awareness about these acts have made these legislations obsolete. Child offences continue to remain as untreated tumor that is shattering the lives of many children. Sexual predators and perpetrators roam free. The victims do not get justice due to the faulty system. There then is a strong need for awareness and informative programs on child sexual abuse. The workshops which will lead to severe information campaigns need to be organized at regular intervals involving all the stake holders. The Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) that has already been put in place should be roped in for effective implementation and awareness of these historic legislations. There is an immediate need to treat the disease of child offences. Let the matter be treated as extremely urgent and let the process begin now!

The author works with Integrated Child Protection Scheme(ICPS), District Baramulla. She can be reached at: bashirmuzamil48@gmail.com