Jan 17, 2010
In view of the increasing incidences of rape, sexual offences, sexual abuse of children, particularly street-children, the Indian government and the law ministry were urged to redefine rape and include related sexual offences in its ambit.
While the Supreme Court has asked the government to come out with foolproof measures to curb ‘sex tourism’ in the country and register cases of rape against those pushing children into prostitution rackets or having sex with them, a delegation of representatives from various national women’s organisations has met and submitted a memorandum to the Union law minister Veerappa Moily demanding that the Sexual Offences (Special Courts) Bill be introduced in Parliament and the definition of rape be expanded and punishment be enhanced.
Expressing shock at the fact that 70 per cent of sex workers are children, a two-judge Bench of Justices Dalveer Bhandari and AK Patnaik said: “Obviously, it is a case of rape if the girls are less than 18 years. If you register 376 IPC (rape) cases, they (accused) will learn the lessons of their life. But the problem is that you don’t do it.”
The apex court said this enormous problem cannot be addressed in a mechanical manner. “We need enormous efforts to deal with it. Gigantic problems have to be dealt on a priority basis,” the judges observed. The apex court gave the direction to solicitor general Gopal Subramaniam during the hearing on a PIL after counsel Aparna Bhat, appearing for certain NGOs, submitted that child prostitution amounted to rape and the menace has reached alarming proportions.
“Just taking them out of the brothel and putting them on the streets is not going to solve the problem. The efforts will bear fruits only after they are properly rehabilitated which is their right (children) under Article 21 (right to liberty),” the apex court said.