GUWAHATI, April 28 – The Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) in its report ‘India’s Hell Holes: Child Sexual Assault in Juvenile Justice Homes’ stated that sexual offences against children in India had reached an epidemic proportion and a large number of those were being committed in the juvenile justice homes run and aided by the Government of India.
The report has been submitted in advance to the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, Rashida Manjoo who is conducting an official visit to India.
The 56-page report, citing National Crimes Record Bureau statistics, stated that a total of 48,338 child rape cases was recorded from 2001 to 2011, and India saw an increase of 336 per cent of child rape cases from 2001 (2,113 cases) to 2011 (7,112 cases). These are only the tip of the iceberg as the large majority of child rape cases are not reported to the police while children regularly become victims of other forms of sexual assault too.
Among the States, Madhya Pradesh recorded the highest number of child rape cases with 9,465 cases from 2001 to 2011, followed by Maharashtra with 6,868 cases, Uttar Pradesh with 5,949 cases, Andhra Pradesh with 3,977 cases, Chhattisgarh with 3,688 cases, Delhi with 2,909 cases, Rajasthan with 2,776 cases, Kerala with 2,101 cases, Tamil Nadu with 1,486 cases, Haryana with 1,081 cases, Punjab with 1,068 cases and Gujarat with 999 cases.
Assam recorded 316 cases in the period. Among the other north-eastern States, Tripura recorded 457 cases, Meghalaya 452 cases, Mizoram 217 cases, Manipur 98 cases, Arunachal Pradesh 93 cases, Nagaland 38 cases, and Sikkim 113 cases.
“In most cases, sexual assault in the juvenile justice homes continues for a long period as the victims are not able to protest and suffer silently in the absence of any inspection by the authorities under the JJ(C&PC) Act. While authorities of the juvenile justice homes are the main predators, the absence of separate facilities, in many cases for boys and girls, and in most cases as per age, i.e., for boys and girls up to 12 years, 13-15 years and 16 years and above as provided under Rule 40 of the Juvenile Justice Care and Protection of Children Rules 2007 facilitates sexual assaults on the minor inmates by the senior inmates,” Subhash Chakma, director, ACHR said.
The ACHR blamed the Government of India, i.e., the Ministry of Women and Child Development and the State Governments for the continuing sexual assault on children in the juvenile justice homes. The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, State Commissions for Protection of Child Rights and the Child Welfare Committees intervene only after crimes are reported but there are no preventive mechanisms or regular inspections.
Many of the child rape cases take place in juvenile justice homes established under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 and by the end of financial year 2011-2012, about 733 juvenile justice homes were fully supported by the Government of India under the Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) of the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
“It will not be an understatement to state that juvenile justice homes –established to provide care and protection as well as re-integration, rehabilitation and restoration of the juveniles in conflict with law and children in need of care and protection – have become India’s hell holes where inmates are subjected to sexual assault and exploitation, torture and ill-treatment apart from being forced to live in inhuman conditions. The girls remain the most vulnerable. It matters little whether the juvenile justice homes are situated in the capital Delhi or in the mofussil towns,” Chakma added.
The 56-page report also highlights 39 emblematic cases of systematic and often repeated sexual assault on children in juvenile justice homes. Out of the 39 cases, 11 cases were reported from government-run juvenile justice homes such as observation homes, children homes, shelter homes and orphanages, while in one case a CWC member was accused of sexual harassment during counselling sessions. The remaining 27 cases were reported from privately/NGO run juvenile justice homes such as shelter homes, orphanages, children homes, destitute homes, etc. Majority of privately/NGO run homes are not registered under Section 34 (3) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act (as amended in 2006).