Hon'ble Dr Arijit Pasayat, Judge, Supreme Court (Retd) was the keynote speaker with the Hon'ble Shri H. L.Gokhale presiding.Sat. Dec 5, 2009. 5pm. Freemasons Hall, Ethiraj Salai, Chennai 600 008.
“Improving the Experiences of the Child Victim in the Criminal Justice System” was chosen as the topic of The Lecture as an outcome of the realities many of our cases encounter. Two examples are
The defense taking exception to a 7 year old child who indicated with her hand her breast as the area which was touched by the accused.
A 13 year old special needs child who was gang raped by a child in conflict with law as well as adults, committed suicide as she and her family could not handle the difficulties of giving evidence in two separate courts
Nowhere in the world was the Criminal Justice System(CJS) written with a child victim in mind. Having to face the criminal justice system that is geared to the needs of adults can be a difficult experience for any victim of crime. When it comes to child victims and witnesses the experience can be doubly traumatic, thereby seriously undermining the full respect of the rights of the child. At the very least it can be intimidating.While only a minuscule number of affected children and their families are formally within the purview of the criminal justice system (CJS), increasing engagement indicates deficiencies with respect to current systems and processes, making it necessary for an examination and improvement. As one of the children in a case Tulir is assisting said “I feel like I am in a washing machine, first being spun around and then all wrung out, ready to dry”.
The implications of not having evolved ( since the 19th century) procedures to address this oversight unlike other countries( including other Commonwealth countries) does not work in favor of instilling a sense of confidence in families and the community to report so that the gap between prevalence and reporting can be narrowed. Furthermore it continues to undermine the abusive experiences of children and its impact while emboldening perpetrators. It is therefore imperative and urgent for more concerted efforts to work towards a more just and efficacious justice delivery system that would allow child victims/witnesses to truly realize their rights as enshrined in the Constitution of India and the Convention on Rights of the Child, besides other International instruments to which India is a signatory.