New Delhi and parts of the National Capital Region is suddenly in the news for all the wrong reasons.
The Nirbhaya case and legislations enacted immediately thereafter were supposed to curb incidents of violence against women in the country. But quite predictably, these laws have hardly made life easier for the weaker gender with crimes against women scaling a new high in India.
The dastardly 2012 Delhi rape case which shocked the whole nation into believing with a certain conviction that no matter how civilized the human race wants to consider itself, the streak of violence, a legacy of his barbarian ancestors, that inhibits a human-being is susceptible to sporadic eruptions that in its wake leaves ruinous consequences.
How else could the alleged rape of a five-year-old by a peon inside the premises of a private school in Shahdara be described!
Descending to the level of an animal, if a person could give vent to his lustful temperament by engaging in such unnatural acts, the person deserves no place in a civilized society which has blessed every individual with a deep-rooted power to differentiate between the normal and unacceptable. The perversions however continue to plague a society that is slowly degenerating into a stage where fellow human-beings are devoid of any feelings for each other.
While the focus has all along been on checking the atrocities against women, the frequency of sexual crimes perpetrated on children who are yet not old enough to grasp the reality of the situation continues to bewilder the nation floundered by the dreadfulness of the immoral acts.
As apt cases that warrant more stringent laws to put away such degenerates for good, the government should be more forthcoming in introducing laws that could spell an end to these sorts of depravities in the society. But it is easier said than done!
Take the case of the horrendous murder of a 7-year-old student of Ryan International School Gurgaon allegedly by a bus conductor of the institution who tried to sexually abuse him!
Amidst a scenario where the terms progress and development are being tagged as a healthy indication of the changing times, it comes as a rude shock to have sexual depravity pushing mankind to the brink of the prehistoric period.
Considering that both these cases involve children and the crimes have been committed in school premises, the attention nationwide has quite naturally shifted to the safety of students in schools.
Hitherto considered the most protected place after their homes, where the tiny tots do not face the risk of any danger to their lives, violent incidents like the ones mentioned tend to make parents and guardians apprehensive. Losing faith in the safety norms maintained by the educational institutes, the holler for more elaborate arrangements in the places of study should thus be seen as a natural reaction.
While some argue that the rising number of crimes against school children should propel the authorities across the country to not only have proper educational facilities but also foolproof mechanism to ensure safety of the students on their campuses, the contention that it is just because there are safety lapses in the school that crimes of this nature occur puts an end to any debate on the issue even before it begins.
By zeroing in on the ‘safe haven’ theory, the authorities could well be aiding the quiet ‘hibernation’ of another explanation to the whole matter where ‘queer mentalities’ more than anything else accounts for the irrational behaviour of those arrested for the crime.
A feeling that deranged thoughts flitting through the mind of a perfectly normal person compels him to give in to his obsessive urges gains more credibility with each passing incidence of criminal act reported against children.
Checking the antecedents of employees before they are hired, though a normal procedure, will not disclose such hidden ‘traits’ in them. Moreover, it is not always the grown-ups who will cause the children harm, at times it does come from ‘closer quarters’.
Even today, reports of students being murdered by classmates continue to baffle the authorities with motives ranging from the most trifle to silly instigating the crime.
As a phenomenon that has had a shocking impact when one describes the scholastic persuasions that remains the prime concern for the student, it is becoming extremely difficult to believe that children who are yet in the foundation stages of their lives could be endowed with such criminal bends of the mind.
Exceptionally violent dispositions where the child is not immune to exhibitions of anger, hatred and jealousy have often resulted in gory acts that have stunned an establishment accustomed to the docile nature of the school-goer.
It is in this milieu that we speak of amending and enacting more stringent laws aimed at extending maximum safety to school students. Monitoring whether the school managements are maintaining effective safety systems will help in only as far as restricting the entry of intruders are concerned.
This belief gains more credence when it has been established more than effectively that even with the best of surveillance technology in place in some of the posh school campuses, safety of the children have at times been compromised.
The ignominy of the unsolved case where a seven-year-old girl studying in a reputed school in the port town of Vasco was raped on the school premises more than four years ago still haunts the Goa government.
Enhancing the safety measures in and around the campuses, effective policing and fool-proof legislations are no doubt the most pragmatic method to counter threats to the lives of school children.
But how do students cope with the victimization by ‘predator’ teachers in their schools? Not a rare species, this genus continues to hound the haloed portals of learning, sometimes with disastrous consequences.
A sexagenarian drawing teacher was arrested last month for allegedly molesting a teenage girl in his private class in Krishnanagar near Pune. Closer to home, after nearly six years of investigation and subsequent trial, a drawing teacher of a prominent school in the capital city of Panjim has been sent to jail for molesting a student with the Children’s’ court sentencing him to four years of rigorous imprisonment. Unfortunately, the girl committed suicide.
With reports of such shocking incidents pouring in every other day, it is more than obvious that children are vulnerable to sexual predators in school and outside it. Alarmingly, there is no robust system available to tackle the critical issue of child sexual abuse with state governments continuing to grapple with its own set of guidelines.
Hence, safety as an aspect of school education cannot be thought of in the sense where by virtue of being in the school precincts children are assured absolute protection.
A sudden compulsion experienced by a classmate, teacher or any other school staff to give into an irrational obsession is all that it takes to make life miserable for the child.(Published on 24th September 2017, Volume XXIX, Issue 39)