[14 Feb] The Catalog: Law & Dis-Order
The past few weeks have been a tough and disillusioning period in terms of delivering justice to victims of sexual offences.
Discussions involving the Child and the Law usually paints a picture of a toxic machine to which unsuspecting and vulnerable children are subjected. Any ‘closure’ for the child is a distant kind of maybe-horizon. While the journey is paved with trauma and ennui.
Many of us are engaged in putting together child friendly systems to support and empower child victims. But at the end of the day, when the judgement is passed in the court of law, it can be staggeringly disappointing.
This edition of The Catalog highlights three judgements, all of which arrived one-on-the-heels-of-the-other. They are so regressive that it feels like someone crossed a time machine with a moral compass. They are sweeping statements that questioning the character of the girls, and indulge in victim blaming and gossip.
So why don’t victims want to report cases? Why is there a reluctance to engage with the criminal justice system?
Because justice is not done. And at what cost?
It’s just a lack of imagination that separates you and your children from these people (the refugees).
“She (the child victim) has admitted that she used to do all dirty things. It appears that she was inherently abnormal and had sexual instincts right from her childhood, in all probabilities, because of the environment and atmosphere where she lived and the conduct of her deceased mother.”
The above observations were made by the Justice Sadhana Jadhav of the Mumbai High Court as part of her reasoning to grant bail to a man accused of committing sexual offences against his daughter. The child was around 11 years when the accused began abusing her. The abuse continued for years before the girl dialed Childline who filed the complaint.
It’s not just the judgement that is warped. Before being adopted by the accused, the girl was in a shelter home for a few years. The order states that the Supervisor of the said protective home had observed “unnatural” and “unwarranted” behavior of the girl. The Supervisor asked the girl to write her life history in her own words. This document proved to be the basis of many of comments made in the judgement. There is no mention of any care or counselling intervention. Rather it seems that the girl was given over for adoption on the hope that “her behaviour would improve”.
It only gets worse. The order further states that the girl had not disclosed the “act” of the applicant for a “considerable amount of time”…. “The statement of the victim on the basis of which crime is registered, does not appear to be truthful and therefore, does not inspire confidence of this Court.”
In an unprecedented move, a Thane special court issued a perjury notice against a 16 year girl in a POCSO case. The girl had allegedly been subjected to rape by her father. Though she testified against her father in the examination conducted by the prosecution, she turned hostile by the end of the cross examination conducted by the defence counsel.
Despite being prohibited by law, the defence posed questions relating to her association with boys and her father’s disapproval of it. It was alleged that she filed a false complaint at the instance of a family feud between her father and her maternal relatives. At the end of this cross-examination, the girl claimed that she filed the case on account of a fight.Retractions are not surprising in POCSO cases and in incest cases, more so. But the Thane Court’s interpretation and actions have clearly gone against the spirit and intent of the POCSO Law.
Justice P. Ubaid found it quite unbelievable that an engineering graduate could be easily deceived on a marriage promise on many occasions, three or four of which were at her residence, when her parents were away.
“Even a common lady or an uneducated lady cannot be deceived more than once or twice on a promise of marriage,” the court said.
(source: Live Law)
#The Budget For Children
The way budgets are reported tends to be a bit of perception management. While there was an attempt to convince the public that overall allocations for children had seen a sizable increase – HAQ CRC‘s real-time budget analysis revealed the truth behind the noise: The share for children in the Budget 2017 remains the same as last year- a paltry 3.2%. Click here for Leher’s blog on the same.
The POCSO Crime Log is a monthly chronological listing that tracks POCSO Cases reported in reliable media sources. 11 cases came to our notice in the month of January 2017.
The Delhi Commission for Women’s investigations into the Asha Kiran Home run by the Delhi government revealed horrifying details of neglect and abuse that has resulted in the death of 600 patients since 2001. The patients were living in inhumane circumstances. They were put through undignified rituals. Despite several prior warnings, no systems of checks and balances were ever put in place. Investigations and the final report will be revealed soon.
The J&K government on Saturday rolled out a plan to ensure “proper implementation” of the Juvenile Justice System in the State through centrally-sponsored Integrated Children Protection Scheme. To begin with, each district will have a Child Protection Officer while Juvenile Homes, Open Shelters and Observation Homes are in the offing to ensure all children, including those involved in streets protests, are rehabilitated.
On helping Female Astronauts deal with Life & Periods in Space.
That’s it for this Fortnight. See You In the Next!
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