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“There is a garden in every childhood, an enchanted place where colors are brighter, the air softer, and the morning more fragrant than ever again.” ~Elizabeth Lawrence

Perhaps with what in the wake of recent happenings in Bengaluru we cannot be sure how long such things can still be said. Every other day when I wake up to the news of yet another rape incident my heart shudders.  When I read beyond the headlines to discover that a 3 yr old or an 8 yr old has been raped the feeling is exacerbated. To think of the little girl being subjected to such a terrible fate is horrible.  In an age when we are suppose to have no worries and  life must be all beautiful and new full of magic all around, the little girl has to face the cruel realities of life.

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In some of these cases the rapist is himself a juvenile. That opens up the debate for two things. First is there no innocence left in our children and in an age when they should be concerned about their career and friends they commit heinous crimes such as murder and rape?

Secondly do we need to take the juvenile law more seriously? In both of the two debates however one thing is common. Are the girls in the country not protected against the perpetrators who are below the age of 18?

What happened on 16th December is well known and we know that the juvenile involved was given 3yrs in rehabilitation centre. The question is, would that be sufficient? Can the govt. assure us that after 3 yrs of rehabilitation the juvenile would not commit such a crime again? Or yet another juvenile will not be provoked such a crime?

Or are we putting the safety and security of the girls of the country to risk? Leaving it to chance?

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We perhaps need to rethink if someone can commit such a crime are they juvenile at all? What I mean is juvenile is suppose to be a term meant for children who have not yet attained maturity but when someone can commit a crime like that do we still need to question the mental state of the person?

With such a juvenile law, is the govt. giving out a message that rape is pardonable until you are a juvenile? And moreover other people would be encouraged to involve juvenile in cases such as sex trafficking etc. That again puts not only the women but the future of the country to risk. Once when the young generation is sucked into this black hole of crime, the task of women empowerment would become even more difficult than it is today.

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Do the little girls not deserve the right to live in pure innocence? Do we need to educate them about what does ‘molestation’ mean or what is ‘sexual harassment’ so that they may see every stranger as a potential rapist in future. And remove the words such as ‘trust’ and ‘honesty’ from their world? Would they ever feel secure after that? Their lives would be lost in trepidation; they will no longer dare to achieve things that women have achieved till now. What would the future of women be if we succumb to it?

We can see more reaction to crimes against girls who are 3 yr olds, perhaps because the society cannot blame the little girl for luring someone towards them, or wearing the wrong sort of dress. We have articles discussing about how 3 yr old girls must be told about the importance of personal space and places in their body where nobody should be allowed to touch? Considering what has happened perhaps it may just be the optimal thing to do, but the question is why did it become necessary in the first place?

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Till today fear would grip a father’s heart when his young daughter would be travelling alone even if it’s a fifteen minutes walk. But now leaving a three year old daughter at home when both the parents are out for work would be considered as a risk, which would also increase the responsibility of working mothers. Because she has no other choice, she has to take the risk or leave her job and her identity to be there for her daughter.

It is challenging to be a woman in a man’s world but to face these challenges at such a tender age is simply unimaginable. We must therefore act before it’s too late.  We must not let the innocence of our little girls be spoilt. The laws that will protect a child from such a crime must be put in place. It should rather be stricter than the other rape laws, because when girls as young as three year old are raped it is not just rape it is a murder of their innocence and childhood, which will never be the same again.

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