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NEW DELHI: The case of alleged sexual abuse of a minor girl at AIIMS has brought to the fore the vulnerability of children in the city. According to the latest report by the National Crime Records Bureau of the Union ministry of home affairs, Delhi reported the highest crime rate in relation to children with an average of 16 cases per one lakh population when compared to the national average of 2 cases per one lakh population. The "Crime in India 2009" report puts the number of rape of minors at 296 and incest at 11 in the capital.
According to NCRB figures on crime against children, there were a total of 398 cases in the category of rape and incest in 2007, 301 in 2008 and 307 in 2009 in Delhi. Child rights activists draw attention to the fact many cases go unreported because there are attempts to brush them under the carpet due to societal pressure. The matter is hushed up by the police because of which the data that does not mirror the social conditions. The NCRB figures are based on information provided by Delhi Police.
For instance, according to the NCRB, there were just two cases of girls being sold into prostitution in 2009 in Delhi. In the 2008 and 2007 reports, no such case was reported in this category. "These figures are misleading as trafficking of minor girls is on the rise. Every now then, new cases come to light," said Bharti Ali from HAQ: Centre for Child Rights, which is also the national coordinator for the campaign against child trafficking.
She asserted that the case of abuse reported from AIIMS shows that minor children are growing more and more vulnerable to abuse. "It is alarming that more and more children who are not even in their teens are being abused. We need to have a stringent law to check abuse and a system where reporting of cases of child abuse and registration of cases with the police is encouraged so that the child can be protected," Ali added.
"We also need to look into other aspects of the law, especially strengthening victim protection and witness assistance. Most laws relating to women and children do not carry a financial memorandum. Hence, there is none or very little investment for implementing the law," she said.
Agreeing that cases of child abuse need greater attention, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, chairperson, Shanta Sinha, revealed that all cases of sexual abuse handled by NCPCR are being analyzed to follow up on the children who were victimized. "We have received 32 cases of grave sexual abuse since 2007. I have asked the officials in charge to review the cases and prepare a report on the status of the children. Analysis of 10 cases has already been done and we hope to be ready with a report by next week," Sinha added.
A study on child abuse carried out by the Union ministry of women and child welfare with the assistance of NGOs in 2007 shows that of the sample surveyed across the country, nearly 53.22% children had faced some form of sexual abuse. Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar and Delhi reported the highest percentage of sexual abuse among both boys and girls.