Welcome the suo moto PIL on the rise in cases of child rape and submit recommendation including a request to treat commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking of children as serial rape

Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan, a survivor centric forum with more than 12,000 survivors of sexual violence and their families today submitted to the Supreme Court of India a letter expressing their gratitude for the suomoto public interest litigation initiated by the court on the rise in cases of child rape, corresponding lack of infrastructure and delay in probe and trial of these cases. The letter which has been signed by over 1500 survivors of rape and families from across India makes specific recommendations to the court which is currently outside the purview of the law or its implementation.

According to Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan (RGA), cases of commercial sexual exploitation of children and sex trafficking are actually cases of serial rape of children. However, in a number of cases that we have dealt, the accused have been charged only under the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 and not under the Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (‘POSCO’) in the FIR. POCSO, Act provides better safeguard, rehabilitation and compensation for the victims. It is to be noted that any sexual act with a minor (other than a wife above 15 years of age) is an offence of rape under section 375 of the IPC and Section 3, 5, 7 & 9 of the POCSO Act, 2012. We humbly request the Court to provide direction to the Police force to also put charge under POSCO Act in all the cases of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of children.

RGA has demanded the cancellation of the licenses of all medical practitioners who are found to be conducting the humiliating two finger tests on survivors of rape, which has been banned by the Supreme Court in 2013. The test was banned because not only does it violate a survivor’s right to privacy, but also because it is unscientific and tends to be used as evidence in court to shame the survivor of previous sexual history. The Forum has documented over 57 cases of such violations by medical practitioners.

RGA has documented over 65 cases of minor survivors of rape who became pregnant because of rape and due to the negligence of the medical examiners who did not initially test them for pregnancy. Due to which minor survivors struggled to receive permission from the court for an abortion. The Forum requests due procedures to be introduced and implemented to ensure examination and treatment for at least three months and separate Performa to be developed for the cases of child rape.

According to the campaign, over in 202 cases it has dealt with, the survivors have neither received any interim compensation, nor a final compensation even after conviction of the accused in the case. According to the law, survivors are entitled to a compensation of up to Rupees 7 lakh.

Survivor leaders narrated the horrendous ordeal that victims of rape and their parents have had to face within families and communities and made an impassioned plea for psychological care and treatment be made available to the survivors of cases registered under the POCSO, 2012. In their experience counselors are either not appointed or are unavailable in most district hospitals. Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan has recommended that the Court direct the Central Government to release funds to enable the appointment of professionally trained and experienced counsellors for such cases in all the districts of India, within three months.

According to the official data since January to June 2019, of the 24,212 cases lodged, only 911 have completed the trialprocess. The Supreme Court of India is moving in the right direction by taking up this matter as suo moto PIL.  Now is the time for all social and state actors to come together to end sexual violence against children in India.