Nitasha.Natu@timesgroup.com

Mumbai:

Sixty-nine per cent of survivors in rape cases registered in the city in FY 2018-19 were children, shows a report on policing and law and order released by Praja Foundation. In 90% of the cases reported under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act, offenders were known to the minors.

Overall, 784 cases of rape were registered in Mumbai in 2018-19—up 22% from 2014-15. The data was accessed by Praja under the RTI Act. The highest number of rape cases in the previous FY, at 244, were reported in North-West Mumbai constituency, comprising Jogeshwari, Goregaon, Andheri and Malad areas. North-Central Mumbai, comprising Vile Parle, Kurla, Bandra and Chembur, had the highest number of molestation cases at 739 during the same period.

Eighty-two of the total 1,140 Pocso victims in the previous financial year were young boys, a majority of them in the age group of six to 12 years.

‘Friend’ involved in 54% of Pocso cases

Eighty-two of the total 1,140 Pocso victims in the previous financial year were young boys, a majority of them in the 6-12 age group. “We have always been saying that young boys are being sexually abused, just that socially and culturally boys weren’t open to talking about it due to the stigma attached,” said Priti Patkar, social worker and co-founder of the non-profit Prerana.

In 54% out of 527 Pocso cases, offenders were friends, lovers or contacts made online. Experts said it is necessary to empower children by teaching them about their right to boundaries. “Children must be taught to say no and that it’s never their fault if they face sexual abuse. They should be taught that if they ever face a case of child sexual abuse, they should approach a trusted adult immediately and confide in him. Adults must have these conversations with children age appropriately and they shouldn’t be one-time conversations as a child may speak up subsequently,” said an expert.

The Praja data also showed of the 1,058 female Pocso victims, 39% were aged 16 to

18. “Criminalization of consensual sex between adolescents and youths is an area of concern for many of us because we are seeing high numbers on the ground,” added Patkar. “We are seeing instances of girls and boys aged between 16 and 18 indulging in consensual sex which is criminalized under law. This is a reality we will have to address. We need a larger debate and need to educate our children about consent culture as well,” said Patkar.

Praja data showed MLAs raised only two questions regarding crimes against children in assembly sessions, despite such a large number of Pocso cases in the previous financial year. Only seven out of 289 issues raised by four North-West Mumbai MLAs were related to rape when this constituency had the highest number of cases.

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