Why Rape Happens? Child Rights Activist speaks about why Sex Offenders commit the Crime

Saturday, 15 December 2018

oPINIONS

Opinions

Why Rape Happens? Child Rights Activist speaks about why Sex Offenders commit the Crime

Miguel Das Queah | March 30, 2018 21:11 hrs


24th March – 5 year old minor of class X raped and burnt alive
28th March – 13 year old molested in Guwahati
28th March – 6 year old raped

 

Of late, this has become a customary headline every second day on the regional media channels. When it comes to rape or other forms of sexual abuse, much of the focus is on the victim’s mental and social state. But we as a society often fail to understand why the sex offenders perpetrate such crimes. 

 

To understand crime, one has to look at the context. Guwahati is one of the most rapidly developing cities of the entire northeastern region. People from all corners of the state and the bordering states have flocked to the city in search of livelihood.

 

Now, if one looks at the profiles of the children in conflict with the law in Guwahati, one would realize that most of these children belong to the slum areas of the city. Social, political and economic marginalization has turned these areas into ‘ghettos.’ Far removed from the social mainstream, it is only natural that people living in these ghettos do not have normative constraints that guide social behaviours and therefore are immersed in a lifestyle where crime and drug abuse are the norm rather than the exception. Additionally, these communities of mostly illiterate migrants are involved in regressive practices that promote gender based violence and harmful traditional practices. Adults in these areas are primarily concerned with survival and therefore effective child rearing takes a backseat. 

 

While parents go out to work, many children loiter around the streets and marketplaces, which bring them into contact with criminal individuals and gangs. In such a context, easy access to inappropriate pornographic material and exposure to mysogynic movies and videos, reinforces the idea that women and girls are objects of desire available for exploitation. Children internalize this skewed context negatively, which often finds expression in aberrant and violent behaviour. 

 

 

If we are to rely upon a Guwahati Municipal Corporation data of 2014, Guwahati city has around 217 slum areas, with approximately 26,000 households. Even if each household has 2 children (UN standard replacement level fertility rate), as many as 50,000 children are residing in the slum areas of Guwahati. Continued deprivation and isolation of these areas will only give rise to more crime in the city.

 

While the state government has been doing so much to uplift the economical sector of the state, nothing tangible has been initiated for the betterment of these marginalised children.

 

The next thing that follows after every such incident gets reported is a mass of ‘humanity’ demanding the death penalty and castration of the offenders. This class of people who shout for the death penalty for children have scarce understanding of the concept of Juvenile Justice, nor are they interested in any sort of social reconstruction, and so they severely fail to understand the link between children and crime. Children by reason of their age are not capable of committing crimes out of mala fide intent and are most often pushed towards the same by reasons beyond their control. There is a reason why we have a juvenile justice system separate from the adult criminal justice system. 

 

If we were to effectively reduce ‘crime by children’ we have to focus on a few things:

 

First, work on changing the social realities in the marginalized communities and bring in appropriate welfare before talking about punishments. 

 

Second, we have to ensure that suitable reform measures are taken when the child comes in conflict with the law for the first time.

 

Third, child welfare committees, district child protection offices, juvenile justice boards and all other institutions and duty bearers should play a proactive role to reach out to the vulnerable children and help in creating an environment that can prevent such incidents.

 

We need to move our mindset from the morbid form of justice and think about more sustainable ways of addressing such crimes.

 

The whole issue of rape, murder, molestation has always put a particular ethnicity in question which has added fuel to the already existing concern. If people are trying to spread hatred by pointing fingers at a certain ethnic group, I have problems with that. Even if crimes are high in the Bengali-Muslim speaking communities, one must not forget to look into the complex context. "A community, where children lack access to proper shelter, clean water, sanitation, education, where children grow up witnessing sexual abuses in everyday life, what do you expect them to grow up as?" says Miguel while raising the concern.

 

This context will of course have a negative impact on the welfare of such communities turning them into hotspots of crime and abuse. Now, until the issue finds political reconciliation, I don’t think there will ever be a solution.

 

“The problem is, we run behind criminals, not the crime,” Miguel Das Queah

 

 Miguel Das Queah is a city based Child Rights Activist and Founder-Chairman at UTSAH
Comments (0) Post Comment