Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Child abuse cases in city on the rise

MUMBAI: A 35-year-old man from Chembur was arrested for raping and sodomising a 10-month-old infant. The accused, Ramkisan Surajmal Harijan, a resident of Mankhurd-Ghatkopar Link Road, took the baby away on Tuesday night on the pretext of babysitting her after which he raped her. The baby was admitted to hospital and underwent an operation on Thursday. The police said that she was still in hospital, but recovering. Ramkisan was remanded to the custody of the Deonar police. The incident, the latest in a string of violent crimes against children which have been rocking the city, only corroborates statistics recently released by the Maharashtra police. Crimes against children have been steadily rising over the last few years—from 832 cases registered in 2000 to 2,281 in 2004. From 2003 to 2004 alone, crimes against children rose by 3.63%. Rape tops this list; in fact, the number of rapes of children in the age group of 10-18 has almost doubled from 2000 to 2004.
Girls under 18 accounted for 45.76% of rapes in 2004 and Mumbai's reputation as a safe city for girls took a serious beating with 127 incidents of minor rape taking place. There was a 12.75% increase in the number of kidnappings and abductions from 2003 to 2004 and Pune city topped the list with 33 incidents in 2004 alone. The number of cases of abetment of suicide also registered a 60% rise while foeticide registered a whopping 200% rise. Overall, Pune city topped the list of crimes against children and Mumbai followed. "Crime on the whole is on the increase but these figures also point towards greater reporting of these crimes," said child rights activist Santosh Shinde. "For example, while the rape of a child would earlier be hushed up, people are now willing to talk about it and report it," he added.
"We are not helping people cope with anger, stress and frustration," said human behaviour and psychology professor Nilima Mehta who is chairperson of Mumbai's Child Welfare Committee. "We need to teach self-management and life skills—how to handle one's own emotions and physical needs," she added. Mehta felt that there was a lot of pent-up aggression in an increasingly alienated urban culture which was giving vent to its frustration in violent crimes. "We have become so detached that we don't know our next-door neighbour's name. We have no sense of empathy. What we need is a balance of physical, emotional and spiritual growth," said Mehta

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