Children in this country have become increasingly vulnerable to sexual violence. According to The Daily Star reports, 29 of the 46 victims of rape in January were below 18 years and among the 29, 13 are aged between five and 12. Sadly, these figures do not include the incidents of child sexual abuse that take place in their own homes, by their close family members and relatives.
Children are easy targets of sexual predators particularly because they cannot fight back and are easily intimidated. And because the perpetrators of sexual violence often hold power in our patriarchal society, they almost always get away with the most heinous crimes. In order to protect our children we need to raise a massive social awareness programme against rape and sexual violence. This should start from home as well as schools. The issues of awareness should be included in the school curriculum. Teachers and parents should make their children aware of the potential dangers and advise them what to do in case they are scared of anyone or feel threatened by anyone. There should be a special helpline for children to report any such encounters. They must be encouraged to speak out if such abuse occurs.
Moreover, the cases filed with child rape incidents must be dealt with on priority basis. In this regard, we need to address the gaps in our existing laws. It is evident from numerous cases that the existing laws are not enough to deal with rape cases. According to reports, less than two percent of rape cases filed between 2012 and 2017 ended in conviction. This is because even if rapists are given severe punishment in the lower court verdicts, when the cases go to the higher courts, the punishments are reduced. The legal system and laws must be reformed so that rapists and sexual predators are meted out justice. If needed specific laws should be passed to deal with child rape (and other sexual abuse) cases.