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03 Jul 2020, Edition - 1816, Friday

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Coimbatore

Alarming rapes of kids:Have we failed our children?

Diya Dev

On Monday, June 24, a two-year-old baby girl’s body was found abandoned at the bottom of a desolate and idle well. The girl lived with her parents, Kangaraj and Kanchana in a rented house in Dhanalakshmi Nagar close to Vilankurichi on the outskirts of the city. The family had gone to visit a sick relative at Pechiammal’s (Kanchana’s mother) house. They were staying with many other relatives, including accused Ragunathan.

According to police sources and interviews with the family members, Kanchana had fed and bathed the baby at around 2:30 AM, and then both of them fell asleep. Around 3:30, Kanchana woke up and found her child missing. She alerted the rest of her family members, and they began to search for her. Kangaraj, who was at his hometown, arrived within an hour of Kanchana informing him.

The baby was found in a well located 100ft deep well 500m away from the house. It has around 20 feet water. Beside the well police found a dhoti and an empty liquor bottle. Based on the angle of the baby girl’s body, it was labeled under section 174 CrPC, or suspicious death.

On early 25th June, the police arrested the maternal uncle Ragunathan, who had given contradictory statements from the rest of the family. The preliminary inquiry showed that the baby was stolen with attempt to rape, but when the baby started crying, Ragunathan had allegedly put his hand to keep her from doing so. The baby then passed out, and in fear that the baby was dead, she was hurled down the well where she passed away.

Continuation

The two-year-old baby’s life was taken in the most heinous way, one not she, nor anyone else deserved. India’s track record with sexual assault isn’t where it should be. With 54% of cases not even reported, trials and crimes delayed, the future for sexual assault victims was looking bleak until 2018.

In 2018, P. M Modi passed an ordinance to amend POCSO or Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act. He amended that in all rape cases for minors under age 12 were, the accused were eligible for the capital punishment- more commonly known as “death row”. From ages 12-16, minimum punishment is twenty years, and the maximum is life imprisonment. Between 16 and 18, the minimum is ten years and the maximum is life imprisonment. Furthermore, in his amendment, he declared that all cases’ judgment and prosecution occur within six months, in order to spare the family pain of a long trial.

Despite P.M Modi’s measures pertaining to stricter laws, the number of cases keeps piling on- mostly due to lack of awareness. Once there is a more conscious nation; aware of repercussions, the rape rate will decrease.

With incident after incident continuing to occur, have we failed our children, asks Coimbatore based Psychologist Swathi Jagadeesh.

Scan QR Code for a panel discussion on Violence against children.

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