State turns helpless onlooker as sexual crimes against girl child peak

Bhubaneswar: A Kathua shook the conscience of the nation, led to national outrage but growing instances of minor rape cases in Odisha don’t seem to make any difference. Other than a report being filed, most cases are now being considered commonplace and do not warrant any proactive action by those concerned.

Will Odisha ever be considered safe for its girls and women? The answer will be a big no, given the burgeoning cases of rapes and gang rapes in the state, the latest being the rape of a 3 year old baby a day back in Bolangir and Jatni where another minor was raped and murdered.

After luring the three-year-old girl child with a chocolate, a 14-year-old boy allegedly raped her in Bolangir Sadar police limits. According to the complaint, the boy abducted the minor girl to a toilet and raped her.

What is nagging is the allegations by family members of the minor survivor and Child Welfare Committee (CWC) members regarding negligence by the authorities of the Bhima Bhoi hospital in Bolangir.

They alleged that the survivor was admitted to the hospital at 2 PM; whereas the treatment began at 9 PM. Instead of attending straight away to the survivor, the family members were troubled as they were tossed from one ward to another.

“For three hours the hospital did not provide any treatment. The hospital authorities have shown utter negligence towards the survivor,” said Sunita Tripathy, CWC member, Bolangir.

Denying the negligence charge, Asish Kumar Singh, a doctor at Bhimbhoi Medical College said, “No neglect is shown to the survivor. Initially, she was in casualty but was later referred to the Gynaecology ward for medical examination.”

The police have detained the minor boy on charges of rape. Bolangir SDPO Srimant Barik said, “The child in conflict with law is a juvenile and has been detained by the juvenile police unit for interrogation.”

However, the ever increasing sexual crimes against girl child in Odisha pops up a big question mark over the criminal jurisprudence system in the State. Simultaneously, it also begs more questions on the responsibilities of the parental set up in our society.

One is aghast to see the dubious list of sexual crimes occurring unabated in the State. The pace at which the incidents occur sends chill down the spine.

Only on April 12, a minor girl was raped and murdered in Jatni area of Khurda district that sparked a huge public outcry. Later, the Commissionerate Police categorised it as a Red Flag case.

In another incident, another minor girl was raped and attempt was made by the accused to kill her in Bhadrak rural police limits. In Nayagarh, another minor girl was raped on the pretext of providing a lift. The ordeal continues.

Social activist Namrata Chaddha opined, “Parents should take care of their children properly and should take their responsibility. Besides, the nonchalant attitude of police in investigating such cases professionally and then taking it to the logical conclusion swiftly is grossly missing in the State.”

In his reaction former police official Suryamani Tripathi suggested, “Within one month of an incident, the charge-sheet should be filed post a thorough investigation. Once the charge-sheet is filed the accused needs to be put in jail, and the bail plea should not be accepted. Stringent punishment should be given to the perpetrators.”

Odisha has a poor record to show in sexual crimes against children. Sample the NCRB data: In 2016, Odisha has recorded a whopping 1,928 cases under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. The shocker is sexual crimes under Section 377 like rapes, outraging modesty and disrobing constituted a humongous 60 per cent of the total IPC crimes against children (3,286) in 2016.