India faulted for failing to curb child sex abuse

Updated 08 February 2013
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India faulted for failing to curb child sex abuse

NEW DELHI: India’s government has failed to curb rampant sexual abuse of children, especially in schools and state-run child care facilities, a rights group said yesterday.
The report from Human Rights Watch comes in the wake of the fatal gang-rape of a young woman on a New Delhi bus in December, an attack that shook the conscience of the nation and forced people to recognize the problem of sexual violence.
The report said child sexual abuse is disturbingly common and government responses fall short in protecting children and treating victims. It also said the inspections of state-run child facilities were inadequate, with many not even registered with the government as required by the law.
“Shockingly, the very institutions that should protect vulnerable children can place them at risk of horrific child sexual abuse,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director of Human Rights Watch.
The group called for strict implementation of laws on sexual violence and better monitoring of child-care facilities. It also demanded more sensitive treatment by police, including an end to internal medical exams that it says are traumatic and pointless.
There are no clear statistics on the number of child abuse cases in India, primarily because of the low reporting of such crimes. As a result, Human Rights Watch based its reports on hundreds of detailed case studies with victims and their relatives, child protection officials, independent experts, police, doctors and social workers.
India’s 430 million children form a third of its 1.2 billion people and around one-fifth of the global child population.
Things are particularly bad in state-run or state-funded child care homes, activists said.
“The vulnerability of children to sexual abuse is very high, and it becomes worse because there is nobody monitoring these children’s homes,” said Anuja Gupta of the Recovering and Healing from Incest Foundation in New Delhi.
Abuse often is committed by the caregivers, she said.
“When the caretaker himself is the abuser, the situation is especially traumatic because then the child has nowhere to go,” Gupta said.
Simply reporting sexual violence is a challenge, rights activists said.
In many cases, police or court officials refuse to accept that rape or incest has taken place, said Shantha Sinha, the head of India’s National Commission for Protection of Child Rights.
“People have to be made aware of their rights, the procedures to be followed in registering a case in a police station, and insist that they get justice,” Sinha said Thursday at a press briefing.
In India, child abuse is often aggravated by poorly trained police officers who refuse to register complaints or who encourage victims to seek settlements with their attackers. Convictions are rare and cases can languish in the country’s sluggish court system for years, if not decades. Police officials insist their forces are getting more training to deal with sexual violence.
The outcry over the Delhi bus rape forced the government to rush through new laws to protect women. A government panel appointed after the attack to examine the country’s treatment of women also shone a light on the high incidence of child sexual abuse and the failure of the government to ensure the implementation of child protection laws.

While the government passed a comprehensive law to protect children from sexual offenses in 2012, efforts to implement it were poor or nonexistent, activists say.
Government officials admit that a major handicap in putting the law into practice was the lack of resources to fund monitoring.
“Some states have lagged in providing the required infrastructure to ensure implementation of the law,” said Vivek Joshi, a top official in India’s ministry of women and child development.


Protests across Spain as sexual abuse gang released on bail

Demonstrators shout slogans as they take part in a protest rally in Valencia on June 22, 2018, a day after a court ordered the release on bail of five men sentenced to nine years in prison for sexually abusing a young woman at Pamplona's bull-running festival. (AFP)
Updated 23 June 2018
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Protests across Spain as sexual abuse gang released on bail

  • All five, aged between 27 and 29, were convicted of sexual abuse in April but were acquitted of the more serious crime of sexual assault
  • Thousands of people had already protested in Pamplona, Bilbao, Barcelona and other cities on Thursday after the court issued its ruling

MADRID: Protesters hit the streets across Spain for the second day running on Friday, after five men sentenced to nine years in prison for sexually abusing a young woman at Pamplona’s bull-running festival were released on bail.
The men, who called themselves “The Pack” in a WhatsApp messaging group, had been accused of raping a woman, then 18, on July 7, 2016, at the start of the week-long San Fermin festival, which draws tens of thousands of visitors.
All five, aged between 27 and 29, were convicted of sexual abuse in April but were acquitted of the more serious crime of sexual assault — which includes rape — as the court did not consider the victim to have been subjected to intimidation or violence.
The men appealed their jail terms and a Pamplona court on Thursday ordered the five to be released on bail of 6,000 euros ($7,000) pending the outcome of the appeal.
Thousands of people of all ages demonstrated outside the justice ministry in central Madrid on Friday evening, shortly after the five men left jail after spending nearly two years in custody.
“I was stunned” by the court ruling, Aratz Beranoaguirre, a geologist, told AFP at the Madrid protest.
“Men have been educated with the idea that we can do anything, and with this ruling we have seen that you can rape and nothing happens.”
The crowd chanted: “They don’t believe us if they don’t kill us.”
Other protests were held in the southern city of Seville, the hometown of the five men, Pamplona — where the crowd held a large banner that read: “No is no. Justice!” outside of city hall — Granada, and elsewhere.
Thousands of people had already protested in Pamplona, Bilbao, Barcelona and other cities on Thursday after the court issued its ruling.
Women’s groups took to social media to call the protests with the slogan: “If the pack hits the streets, we will as well.”
Marches after the verdict in April brought tens of thousands of protesters out on to the streets.

“It is not fair that they are released with a sentence of nine years, and just a few days before San Fermin, they can even go there,” said Lucia Rodriguez, a 60-year-old protester in Madrid, referring to the upcoming running of the bulls festival which gets underway on July 6.
In its decision on Friday, the Navarre court said the five had been allowed out on bail because the social pressure on them made it “practically unthinkable” they would risk re-offending.
The men will remain under judicial monitoring. They have had their passports withdrawn and must report to court three times a week.
They are also banned from traveling to Madrid, where the victim lives.
One of the men is a policeman with the Guardia Civil — who is currently suspended — and another was once in the army. Several are “ultras” or hardcore fans of FC Sevilla.
The fact that the men videoed the attack on their smartphones and bragged about it within their WhatsApp group added to the outrage over the case.

The mayor of Pamplona, Joseba Asiron, said Friday his office would appeal the decision to release them, saying there was “a growing distance... between society itself and certain decisions taken by the courts.”
An online petition calling for the five to be kept behind bars had garnered 657,000 names by Friday night.
New socialist Justice Minister Dolores Delgado has not commented on the court decision, speaking only of a need to “change mentalities.”
The first step announced by the government of Pedro Sanchez, who took office earlier this month at the head of cabinet that includes 11 women, was to train magistrates in awareness about violence against women.
Noelia Garcia, 41, said she did not trust that the situation would change with a new government dominated by women.
“That is not enough. There needs to be a reform of the judicial system. Judges from another era need to be replaced,” she added at the Madrid protest.