Child sexual abuse and rape is an unprecedented national crisis. Three children are raped and five children are sexually assaulted every hour in India
Justice is being denied to the child victims of sexual abuse and rape due to the inadequacies of India’s justice delivery system.
The law mandates that the trial of cases under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act be completed in 1 year and trials in rape cases be completed in 2 months. It requires that child victims be given compensation, mental health and paralegal support to navigate the complex criminal justice system and to continue the fight for justice. However, there is a disconnect between the law and its implementation in cases of child sexual abuse.
If no new cases were added in 2019, it would take an average of 8.2 years for trials to be completed for child sexual abuse and rape cases. (NCRB 2019).
Most cases of child sexual abuse go unreported. Victims are more often than not silenced by the social stigma, lack of support and the fact that the perpetrator might be known to them and the family, preventing a majority of victims from reporting the crime.
Those who have the courage to take on the fight for justice face inhuman challenges. Delays in trial, an insensitive system, and the lack of a legal deterrent revictimises the child and often results in victims and witnesses becoming hostile. The vulnerability of female victims is compounded by social ostracisation, which often causes them to drop out of school and face gender-based discrimination. Public loses confidence in the justice delivery system and the impunity of perpetrators in a way perpetuates the abuse of children unchecked.
This has to end.