THE latest victim of the ceaseless horror of minor girls’ rape is a poor six-year-old in Canacona. Daughter of a migrant construction worker, she was allegedly raped for three months by three men working at the same construction site, two as security guards, the third as worker. The brutality with the girl would have continued had she not decided to confide in her 14-year old brother who told their father. The father lodged a complaint with the police. The case just goes on to show how vulnerable girl children are. Men, no matter what class, prowl for helpless and vulnerable women, no matter what class and what age, and look for the first opportunity to rape them. There is a lesson for those who style themselves as cultural policemen. They must give up their view that women are sexually molested because they wear provocative dresses. What provocative dress the six-year-old girl of Canacona was wearing to invite savagery of three men for three months? She was too young and too poor even to know what the word ‘fashion’ means. The cultural policemen must give up their wrong notions and jettison their woman-blaming ideas on the issue of sexual molestation.
Goa is usually considered safer for women than some of the states such as UP, MP and Rajasthan. However, can we still hold the view, even after the many cases of molestation and rape coming up? All said and done, Goa is still a male-dominant society. Females are considered a notch below or even expected to play the submissive. In a recent incident at a restaurant in Panaji, two men outraged the modesty of a woman and her two minor daughters. The men and the woman got into a dispute over occupancy of a table, which could have been settled amicably but for the male chauvinism of the two men. They continued hurling prurient abuses at the woman for a long time. The woman had to file a complaint with the police, which led to the arrest of the two men. The example just goes on to show that though Goa is known for its liberal culture, women continue to be victims of molestation. They suffer wherever they are: public transport, office, market or workplace. And the age of the woman does not matter to the molester: it can be a minor girl or a mother of minor girls. They will be subjected to his beastly desires and male arrogance.
In May 2012, a four-year-old girl was raped and murdered in Canacona. A former legislator was accused of rape of a minor in the recent past. Crime against children is rising despite stringent laws to deal with the crimes against children. Delay in delivery of justice in crimes against children, works like a dampener as most accused get away. As has been done in the case of Kathua and Unnao rape cases the state government should fix a time frame for investigating the cases involving crimes against children, particularly rapes and murders, and for their disposal in the courts. The director general of police must direct the police officer investigating into the rape of the six-year-old girl in Canacona to complete his probe in the shortest possible time.
Recently, the central government has decided to provide for death penalty for the rape of children below the age of 12. However, that alone will not solve the problem. In fact, the death provision might reduce the number of complaints against rape of minors. It has to be remembered that in more than 90 per cent of cases of rape of women, minors or adults, the accused is known to the victim. They are relatives, neighbours or acquaintances. The victims or their parents might hesitate to file a case against the accused in which there would be a chance of him getting the death penalty. Even though the victims and parents file complaints in order to see that the accused is punishment, they might feel revolted by the idea that the man might be executed. Death penalty to the accused in cases of rape of minors might therefore lead to greater suppression of the crime by the family than it has been. The second area in which the government has to work is to increase the police manpower for assigning adequate number of policemen full-time for investigation of rape cases. Police officers are overburdened. The third area the government has to work in is to increase the number of courts and number of judges. The backlog in rape cases goes back to 20 years.