KOCHI: Nobel Peace laureate and child rights activist Kailash Satyarthi who has launched his Bharat Yatra from Kanyakumari to Delhi on September 11, marking the launch of his three-year campaign against child rape and child sexual abuse and trafficking, has asked parents and guardians to become true friends of children and encourage them to speak out.
“If children have the confidence to share incidents with family members, and if family members realize that silence is not an option, then half battle in crimes against children would be won,” says Mr Satyarthi.
“The POCSO Act is a step in the right direction to curb violence against children. As activists, we feel the law needs to be strengthened even more to be able to curb the magnitude of crime being committed against our children. The perpetrators of these crimes should face the harshest of punishments, so that they may never repeat their offence and that their example acts as a deterrent to other such people in our country,” says Mr Satyarthi.
He points out that the biggest problem with POCSO is in implementation. “Barely 4 per cent of the accused have been convicted since it came into force. And justice for the victims remains elusive and distant. For example, it will take 12 years to clear the backlog of child rape cases in Delhi assuming no more such rapes take place; it will take more than 20 years in Maharashtra and a shocking 40 years in Gujarat,” he says.
He says that the surge in reported cases in recent times is because of the increase in awareness. “This is a positive sign as people and victims are slowly moving from the fear of speaking out, to fearlessness. Another reason is the lack of education and the pervasive ignorance about this crime,” he says.