Special Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act court sentenced a van driver to 10 years’ imprisonment for sexually assaulting a six-year-old girl twice near her Andheri School in 2016.
It is heartbreaking to see how our young kids are increasingly becoming victims of sexual abuse. And, what is even more saddening is the fact that the place of education, which we presume to be the safest, is turning into the place of abuse. How school authorities not taking enough precautions to save our kids from the sexual assault at its own premises is not only disappointing but also very dangerous.
As the special court observed the testimony of the victim, now 10, fluent and without embellishment, it found the van driver guilty of the crime. Along with 10 years’ imprisonment, the culprit has been fined of Rs. 15000, out of which Rs 10,000 will be given to the girl.
The Shocking Incident
On February 11, 2016, when the victim was in a school playground, a man dragged her away and sexually assaulted her. When she returned home, the mother not only found the victim upset but also found the bloodstains on her innerwear. After repeatedly being asked, the six-year-old gathered the courage to open up. She shared with her mother that an uncle had touched her inappropriately.
Without any fear and blinded by his sex greed, the man sexually assaulted the girl again the next day. But this time, he not only assaulted her but also threatened to kill her parents. The child soon went to a teacher and they tried to find the man but in vain.
While returning home when the girl confided in her mother, her mother along with a neighbor went to the school. As the van driver was standing at the school gate, the girl identified him. As the driver noticed that the girl’s mother made note of his registration number, the driver fled.
It was then the girl’s parents approached the school authorities and filed a police complaint a few days later.
Even though the convict claimed before the court that he was not present in the school when the incident occurred, he was unable to produce any witness to substantiate his claim.
But, what is shocking is the fact that though there were cameras in the school, the principal mentioned that they were of poor quality and hence, weren’t helpful. It was only after the incident the school authorities installed more cameras.
Though the medical officer couldn’t find any injury in the private parts, the judge HC Shende said:
“The reason for me to believe the victim’s testimony is the medical officer’s explanation that due to her tender age and the time gap, healing process could be rapid.”
As per TOI, while sharing the details, the prosecutor G Malankar mentioned:
“The court took into account there was no reason for a child to falsely accuse a man of sexual assault. Her family wasn’t acquainted with him and she did not commute by his van.
The victim and her family had to move out of Mumbai because of the trauma.”
Though the culprit’s counsel sought leniency from the court as he had three dependents, to which Judge Shende replied:
“The victim was only six years old. What was her fault?”
The Bottom Line:
At IFORHER, we feel it is not only the accused who needs to be punished but also the court needs to hold school authorities accountable for the lack of safety infrastructure. It is high time that the court starts holding the schools accountable for setting up the required infrastructure to avoid such incidents at school premises.
As a society, if we can’t safeguard our young vulnerable kids from sex-deprived monsters, then we should be ashamed of calling ourselves a civilized society.
(The victim’s or school identity has not been revealed to protect the victim’s privacy as per Supreme Court directives on cases related to sexual assault)