Friday, January 26, 2007

Religion and Nithari

Here's what Catholic India has to say about CSA and Nithari

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Incest still happens

This article proves it.

Disgusting but true. An adult woman being "forced" into becoming sexually involved with her own son might seem unbelievable, but circumstances might state otherwise.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Do you remember Father Birmingham ?

Hand of God is a rivetting documentary film about a young man's journey through the healing process after being sexually molested by a priest known as Father Birmingham. I doubt the film will be released in India but i intend on screening it as soon as i acquire a copy of the DVD.

On perusing the website i found the letters particularly revealing.. over 30 people responded to Paul's newspaper advertisements, making one wonder as to how many people exactly had been subjected to Birmingham's paedophilic tendencies.

Sexual Abuse in Churches has always been a touchy subject, but one hopes that endeavours like Paul's will serve their purpose in bringing those wronged by their "protectors" peace, healing and justice.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Abuse in Churches

The National Review Board for the Protection of Children and Young People established by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops has not had an easy time of determining the extent of the sexual abuse of minors within the American Roman Catholic Church. Not surprisingly, there has been considerable internal opposition. This resistance was so bad that long before its work was finished, its chairman, Frank Keating, was forced to resign after he compared the Church's actions to the Cosa Nostra, which rather proved his point.

Certainly the fact that the report was reluctantly commissioned by the bishops who have been responsible for the crisis does not reflect well on its credibility. Nor does the fact that they only reason they ever did so was due to the constant and unrelenting pressure since the early 1990s by victims and advocacy groups, and later, the news media — not to mention the drain on their treasuries from huge settlements and dwindling contributions.

Many dioceses with much to hide did not want to co-operate. The results are still missing from some, and the rest are spinning their denials and minimalizations as fast at their highly paid PR firms can turn.

The focus was criticized as too narrow, being concerned solely with child sexual abuse. Other situations where clerics have sexually acted out with adult women and men, nuns and seminarians, have not been looked at; nor the effect on any offspring they may have sired in the process. For that matter, the personal cost to victims and their families remains uncounted. How many lives destroyed through alcohol, drugs, unsafe sex or violence have there been? How much abuse has been repeated by its victims? How many suicides and ruined families? How can the total cost ever be calculated?

There has been much complaining by victims, also, that only a handful were asked to testify, that there was too little time and too many restrictions. Many, too, point out that not all victims have yet come forward by any means. Indeed, even if there are no new cases, just the repressed memories alone of the still-unrecognized victims will guarantee that these numbers will only increase over the next twenty years.
And nothing has been said about multiple abusers and rings who swapped victims around like trading cards...

Nonetheless, A Report on the Crisis in the Catholic Church in the United States has generated a fog of figures, which cannot obscure the extent of this massive failure of institutional religion. It is indeed a crisis. Though this is a step forward, it is not the solution by any means, but a half-hearted admission that there is a problem.

Here are a few of the highlights.

US clerics accused of abuse from 1950-2002: 4,392. About 4% of the 109,694 serving during those 52 years.

Individuals making accusations: 10,667.

Victims' ages: 5.8% under 7; 16% ages 8-10; 50.9% ages 11-14; 27.3% ages 15-17.
Victims' gender: 81% male, 19% female

Duration of abuse: Among victims, 38.4% said all incidents occurred within one year; 21.8% said one to two years; 28%, two to four years; 11.8% longer.

Victims per priest: 55.7% with one victim; 26.9% with two or three; 13.9% with four to nine; 3.5% with 10 or more (these 149 priests caused 27% of allegations).

Abuse locations: 40.9% at priest's residence; 16.3% in church; 42.8% elsewhere.

Known cost to dioceses and religious orders: $572,507,094 (does not include the $85 million Boston settlement and other expenses after research was concluded). (Hartford Courant, 2/27/04)

It should be noted that 30% of all accusations were not investigated as they were deemed unsubstantiated or because the accused priest is dead.

Unfortunately, however, these initial numbers are likely to be the only official accounting ever done by the Roman Catholic Church. As soon as the report was published, the UCCB acted swiftly to cut the National Review Board's feet out from under it. For this was to be the preliminary report; the audits were to be completed and a larger report issued. Furthermore, the Board had planned further follow-up reports to follow the implementation of their proposals.
That will not happen now. And so the Church has lost its last, best chance of ever coming clean.
In any case, these figures are widely suspected to be grossly underestimated. For example, the late Fr. Tom Economus, former President of the Linkup, a national survivors' advocacy group, said back in the mid-90s that he knew of "1,400 insurance claims on the books and that the Church has paid out over $1 billion in liability with an estimated $500 million pending." (Emphasis added.)

He also said that over 800 priests had been removed from ministry and that there might be as many as 5,000 with allegations against them, which is not that far off. He often claimed that by far the most calls he received from all victims of any kind of clergy abuse were those from males who suffered abuse in their youth in the Catholic Church. Certainly these figures, which show that the highest number of victims were 12 year old boys and that 80% of the abuse was homosexual in nature, validate that anecodotal evidence, too.

Also, Fr. Tom Doyle, a canon lawyer with more experience than any in these cases, has raised many questions over the validity and methodology of the study. He has said that he thought many cases were still hidden, pointing out the low numbers for the 1950s.

'"It's not over with," Doyle said. "The heart of the matter is: Why was there this massive betrayal? Why did they move [abusers] around for years, when they knew what they were doing? Why have they continued to re-victimize the victims by stonewalling, and why they have never turned in any of these known pedophiles?"'(Hartford Courant, 2/26/04)

Additional Information from other sources

Four in 10 US Catholic nuns report having experienced sexual abuse, (a rate equivalent to that reported by American women in general), a study by Catholic researchers supported by major religious orders, has found. The study found that sisters have known sexual abuse less in childhood, dispelling what the authors call an "anti-Catholic" canard that girls fled to convents to escape sexual advances. During religious life, close to 30% of the nation's 85,000 nuns experienced "sexual trauma," ranging from rape to exploitation to harassment. A total of 40% reported a least one experience of that kind. NCR, 1/15/99 See The Nuns' Stories for details.
The Wisconsin Psychological Association's survey found offenders distributed among the following professions:
Psychiatrists 34%, Psychologists 19%, Social Workers 13%, Clergy 11%, Physicians 6%, Marriage Counselors 4%, and Others 14%.

The Center for Domestic Violence found that 12.6% of clergy said they had sex with church members. 47% of clergy women were harassed by clergy colleagues.

The Presbyterian Church stated that 10-23% of clergy have "inappropriate sexual behavior or contact" with clergy and employees.

The United Methodist research (1990) showed 38.6% of Ministers had sexual contact with church members and that 77% of church workers experienced some type of sexual harassment.

The United Church of Christ found that 48% of the women in the work place have been sexually harassed by male clergy.

The Southern Baptists claim 14.1% of their clergy have sexually abused members.

At least the Roman Catholic Bishops can take heart: they're not alone...

Monday, January 22, 2007

An article from 1997 on CSA and the law

Ok 1997 was a decade ago, things have changed since then.

Or have they really ??

To Think The Unthinkable
The judiciary, like the rest of society, dangerously downplays the reality of child sexual abuse
Soma Wadhwa

Wives who make allegations of sexual abuse of their children by their husbands suffer from "some peculiar psychiatric condition". The alleged sexual abuse of an "infant child (who would have just passed her suckling stage then)" is a "seemingly incredulous" accusation to make. An allegation of child sexual abuse by a mother will be "concocted to wreak her vengeance" on her husband.

The medical examinations carried out at the behest of a mother which reveal "a wide vaginal opening—wider than would be expected of their age group" will at most support the probability of "what a mother might do with the little female child for creating evidence of sex abuse".

"A father is a father...and even if he is a bad father he still has the right to his children..."

THESE are no old wives’ tales. These are the observations, made by the Supreme Court, on wives, tormented children and allegedly abusive husbands. Uttered as observations in the Satish Mehra versus Delhi administration case filed by the former—challenging his wife’s allegation that he had repeatedly sexually abused their eight-year-old daughter from age three onwards—these words speak of a typical judicial attitude towards cases of child sexual abuse.
"Instead of addressing the legal and social problems related to child sexual abuse, such observations coming from the country’s apex court reaffirm the myths about the heinous crime," says Maya Ganesh of Sakshi, an NGO working with women and children in the area of violence. Verdicts such as these, the agitated activist points out, only add to the outdated beliefs that a mother who accuses her husband of this crime either doesn’t sexually satisfy her husband, wants to take revenge on him, is insane, or doesn’t take care of her children. "It’s quite a task anyway to convince people that bus conductors, drivers and domestic help are not the only ones who abuse children. That this is a crime that has children suffering in many apparently ‘normal’ homes. It would certainly help if the judges didn’t feel the same way too," she says.

Unfortunately, the hope seems misplaced. Even as the National Commission for Women conducts a National Consultation on Sexual Exploitation of Children in Goa this week with ministers and justices as speakers, a survey conducted by Sakshi just last year had 50 per cent of the 109 judges questioned from all over the country saying that child sexual abuse is not a common crime. They felt that the offence exists only amongst "uneducated, depressed and over-sexed people and/or people with a prostrate gland problem". A 48 per cent of the judges felt the perpetrators of such crime were not from within the family, but strangers and domestic help. Comforting beliefs, perhaps, but ones that are easily shattered even with the very meagre documentation done on the subject in the country. Bangalore-based NGO Samvada’s study—titled Preliminary Report of a Workshop Series and Survey on Childhood Sexual Abuse of Girls—carried out with 348 girls from schools and colleges in the city revealed that 83 per cent of the respondents had experienced some form of sexual abuse.

Two-thirds of the victims said their abusers were known to them, the majority of them being male members from the family.

THE case then is hardly overstated when the judiciary and the executive are asked to recognise that child sexual abuse is a grave reality that needs urgent attention. "The entire system—the judiciary included—has to do its bit towards finding a solution. There should be a ruling making sex education mandatory in our schools. A child should be taught to differentiate a good touch from a bad one," observes Sana Das of Samvada.

Till that happens, however, it is left to the judiciary to interpret touches and decide on the nature of offences. Which interpretations, often, are appalling. In the case of the government under-secretary, who was accused of repeated sexual abuse of his daughter, the abuse involved vaginal and anal penetration with a finger and forcing the child to have oral sex. Neither the district court, nor the high court or the Supreme Court was willing to acknowledge any of the penetrations as rape. The district court ruled in the CBI versus K.C. Jhaku case: "The word ‘penetration’ does not connote penetration of any foreign object. There must be penetration of the male organ, and that too in the vagina, otherwise, the act would constitute a carnal intercourse."

"The problem with the existing law on child sexual abuse is that there is no existing law on the subject," says lawyer Niti Dikshit. The absence of a separate law on child abuse means that sexual assault on minors is tried under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which makes the crime punishable for being "voluntary intercourse against the order of nature". Moreover, the minimum sentence for rape is 10 years while the maximum sentence under Section 377 is 10 years.

"What of the minor boy who is being forced into oral sex or the girl child who is being fondled and used as an object to masturbate...we always need a sympathetic judge to interpret the law favourably. We could do with a solid law," argues the lawyer.

THIS vagueness regarding the crime spills into police stations that are sought as the first refuge by harassed victims of the crime. The lack of specialised cells for a crime that needs to be treated sensitively has most such victims coming into the Crime Against Women Cell (CAWC). "We hardly have any investigative powers to deal with this crime. Nor do we have any counsellors to handle the complainants," admits deputy commissioner S.S. Grewal of Delhi’s CAWC.
"We often end up asking harsh questions but then we are not trained in the field."

The absence of trained professionals in the police stations and the courts while these cases are on, insists child psychiatrist Vinay Kshetrapal, can be detrimental to the mental health of the victim who is already traumatised. "Disbelieving questions and harsh attitudes can ruin a child’s confidence when he or she has just about mustered enough courage to speak out the unspeakable," says Kshetrapal. He insists that all such cases abroad are conducted with a counsellor monitoring the mental health of the minor victim.
"Sympathy is an imperative in this case."
So are laws.
As also a healthy judicial attitude.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


Healing is necessary, not only for people who have endured abuse, but also for people around them who have borne the brunt of behavioural changes, relationship problems etc. that have resulted from the victim's reaction to trauma.

The reason as to why it is imperative that people address and heal from their childhood experiences of abuse is because even a single act can result in a number of emotional barriers, loss of self-esteem and a number of "hidden" disorders that take shape later in life.

The battle against CSA is often a lonely one, owing to societal walls, ignorance, apathy and the usual bunch of adult idiots who think that not talking about it or blocking it through marriage and education (haha how ironic) will "solve" the problem. However,there are means and ways by which victims of abuse can begin strengthening themselves from within.

  • Reading up on the issue - This is an important step towards acknowledging what happened and also realizing that YOU are not to be blamed for it.

  • Writing about it - Whether in an online journal or on paper, "getting it out" in words in a sense, lightens the emotional burden. Emailing someone helps too, im currently e-counselling 5 people who write in to me about how they're progressing each day.

  • VENT - Scream, Shout, tear paper, listen to angsty music, go out on a long drive, take the weekend off or invest in a punching bag *non-human*. The anger needs to get out, it's done enough damage already. Self-harm is NOT healthy venting.

  • Joining a support group - There is strength in numbers, and just the knowledge that you will be in an understanding environment with people who have been through similar hell, will help the healing process immensely.

  • Speak with a friend - Ok so the family isn't too keen on being there for you and hearing you out. A friend might be a better choice. Look for someone who is unbiast and a good listener, and not one of those horrible opiniated types who will complicate things. Obviously confidentiality will have to be promised before you start talking. It would help if people put themselves through a "dealing with disclosure" workshop.
Elaan is organising a Dealing with Disclosure workshop in the first week of February. Those who are interested in attending/would like their schools and colleges to attend, email.

Monday, January 15, 2007


Adult Survivors of Sexual Abuse: What We Would Like You to Know about Us

1. We grew up feeling very isolated and vulnerable, a feeling that continues into our adult lives.

2. Our early development has been interrupted by abuse, which eitherholds us back or pushes us ahead developmentally.

3. Sexual abuse has influenced all parts of our lives. Not dealing with it is like ignoring an open wound. Our communication style, ourself-confidence, and our trust levels are affected.

4. Putting thoughts and feelings related to our abuse "on the backburner" does not make them go away. The only way out is to go through these emotions and process them.

5. Our interest in sexual activity will usually decline while we are dealing with this early trauma. This is because:- we are working on separating the past from the present.- pleasure and pain can sometimes be experienced simultaneously.- it is important for us to be in control, since control is what we lacked as children.- sometimes we need a lot of space. Pressuring us to have sex will only increase our tension

.6. We often experience physical discomforts, pains, and disorders that are related to our emotions.

7. We often appear to be extremely strong while we are falling apart inside.

8. There is nothing wrong with us as survivors -- something wrong was DONE to us.

9. Sometimes others get impatient with us for not "getting past it"sooner. Remember, we are feeling overwhelmed, and what we need is your patience and support. Right now, it is very important for us to concentrate on the past. We are trying to re organize our whole outlook on the world; this won't happen overnight.

10. Your support is extremely important to us. Remember; we have been trained to hold things in. We have been trained NOT to tell about the abuse. We did not tell sooner for a variety of reasons: we were fearful about how you would react, what might happen, etc. We havebeen threatened verbally and/or non verbally to keep us quiet, and we live with that fear.

11. Feeling sorry for us does not really help because we add your pain to our own.

12. There are many different kinds of people who are offenders. It does not matter that they are charming or attractive or wealthy.Anybody -- from any social class or ethnic background, with any level of education-- may be an offender. Sexual abuse is repetitive, so be aware of offenders with whom you have contact. Do not let them continue the cycle of abuse with the next generation of children.

13. We might not want or be able to talk with you about our therapy.

14. We are afraid we might push you away with all our emotional reactions. You can help by: listening, reassuring us that you are not leaving, not pressuring us, touching (WITH PERMISSION) in a nonsexual way.

15. Our therapy does not break up relationships - it sometimes causesthem to change as we change. Therapy often brings issues to thesurface that were already present.

16. Grieving is a part of our healing process as we say goodbye to parts of ourselves.

From Triumph over Darkness by Wendy Ann Wood, M.A.copyright Wendy Ann Wood 1993
Courtesy the Askios e-group. Thank you !

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Female Perpetrators - Male Victims

Women are as capable of being perpetrators of sexual abuse as men are. An article on Human Rights Violations in Prisons highlights one of possibly many cases of sexual abuse by a woman.

One of the biggest misconceptions regarding CSA is that it "only happens to girls". That is untrue. Boys face sexual abuse at a higher frequency than girls, say statistical reports.

However socialization patterns prevent boys from speaking about their "emotions" for fear of coming across as "unmanly" or "weird" so there is more dialogue on the sexual abuse of females than there is on the sexual abuse of boys. One male survivor of sexual abuse by his female teacher recalls the confusion it resulted in.. "one minute she was reprimanding me for not doing my homework and the next minute she was all over me. the next day when i went to school, she acted like nothing had happened.this happened till i graduated." Another survivor says his aunt was very "hot" and said it was a kick for him to have his first sexual experience with her at age 12, but later felt "sick" about it. he now claims to "hate" women and refuses to trust them.

Rennee Koonin writes brilliantly and honestly about her sexual abuse as a child in this online
article. What wrenched my gut were these lines :

" When I recalled that I was sexually abused by my stepfather as a child, I was devastated, but I was, not surprised. When I remembered that my mother had also abused me sexually, my world fell apart. Nothing I believed, none of my work as a social worker, educator and activist had prepared me for this truth. "

The fact that Men and Women are both not immune to Sexual Abuse, and are also equally capable of being Perpetrators is not hot news straight off the shelf. People are well clued into the fact, especially those who come from joint family backgrounds. A separate essay on joint families and CSA is somewhere on this blog, will post the link when i find it.

Jim Hopper is someone i have worshipped ever since i began working on the issue of Child Sexual Abuse. His essays are thorough and well-researched, in a language that is simple to understand. Here is the Hopper take on what he describes as
"society's betrayal of boys".

In the Indian context, where a lot of children have grown up in joint families, it is unsurprising that 80% of sexual abuse cases fall under Incest

Friday, January 12, 2007

Interactive Session at Jadavpur University

Elaan kicked off the year's activities with an invigorating interactive session with the First and Second Year COMPARATIVE LITERATURE students at Jadavpur University.

Discussions and QnA (thats Question n Answer) topics ranged from the Nithari Tragedy to the Legal scenario (good going Rahul) , to our Penultimate goal (Joanna) , to translating campaign material into vernacular dialects and tackling the districts.
Rohit came up with the concept of using Street Theatre to further the awareness campaign in less-developed regions while Debdutta mentioned "jatra" which i am assuming is on the same lines.

A student who lives in Barrackpore and travels regularly by local train told me that the issue was prevalent where she lived (her para) while the person sitting next to her (didnt get her name :( ) said it would help immensely if we got some material disseminated there. We will.

Raka spearheaded the eve-teasing segment which lightened the atmosphere considerably.

Inam spoke of consistent media (newspapers etc) which was a good idea overall(think : bula di), as long as the journalists in question have the same drive and inclination.

Thank you to all those who took the time to be there.

More on the orkut community in a topic titled "elaan at JU".

Awaiting CV's

The next spate of volunteer interviews is at T3, Park Street, from 3pm. Do email/call if youre interested. Will be working there till 8pm.

Elaan plans on initiating the IPRP and LACSA at Jazzfest 2007. 14th January Sunday at DI (Dalhousie Institute). Those interested in volunteering, you know what to do.

Thursday, January 11, 2007


Now that Nithari has succeeded in shocking the nation, stirring the creative juices of media-loving politicians and bringing light to the fact that CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE DOES EXIST, half this youth group's problems are over.

Firstly, a number of ignorant questions will (hopefully) not be extended in our direction such as "accha, this country is mostly Hindu so how can you say that CSA exists?"/ "accha Pranaadhika (for that is my name), this disease (!) exists only in higher stages of society so why plan rural awareness?/" you got abused because you wear western clothes and indian males get 'out of control' with 'western-minded' ladied because it is out of their culture"...

Page 3, the National Award winning film , Monsoon Wedding, Everybody Says Im fine , Pinki Virani's Bitter Chocolate book and now the Nithari tragedy of 2006-7 all serve as public education tools on Child Sexual Abuse.

After Nithari it is interesting to note how perpetually confused the law-making people are looking, especially when it comes to responding to the media. Undoubtedly one of the best articles on Police ignorance of CSA helped pinpoint one of the many reasons as to why a lot of this case is going to be ruined. If the people don't know what signs to look for, how will they come to a reasonable conclusion as to what happened and why it happened ?

Elaan will be holding an interactive session with the first year students of the Jadavpur University this afternoon. For those who have personal queries or wish to send in their CV's, the procedure and requirements are as follows -

1. You need to belong to the institute, in simple English - you need to be a Student or Faculty member.
2. You need to devote 15 hours a week for a single week (that's 3 hours a day) for sensitization lectures and training.
3. You need to report to Elaan on a fortnightly basis.
4. You need to be fluent in the English language.
5. If inducted, you will be required to work exclusively with Elaan in the capacity of a volunteer
for a minimum of 1 year if you desire a letter of recommendation.

CV's to be emailed to

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


It isn't hard to figure out that the Nithari tragedy has exposed, most unsurprisingly, the incompetance and sheer Ignorance of the police with regard to knowledge on CSA.

The tragedy has shocked me to bits, as a result of which i have created a Nithari-specific blog which contains updates and insights into the situation there. It is difficult to research and maintain two blogs as it is so will do my best at updating them regularly.
The Nithari Blog URL is -

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

The Goa Child Protection Act, 2003

Goa is a tourist hotspot that is frequented by young and old from all over the world, some of whom visit for the calming "holiday" atmosphere, some for the wild nightlife and woodstock reminincing, and some for more sinister activities..

Post-Father Freddy Peat and other similar cases where locals and tourists were found to be indulging in the sexual abuse of children/child pornography, the Goa Child Protection Act of 2003 made a strong statement in favor of punishing those who traumatized and exploited Goa's youth.

It can be downloaded and perused

Monday, January 8, 2007

CSA cases in India

Child rights activists all over the country were heartened by the news of the conviction of Wilhelm and Loshiar Marty by the Bombay Sessions Court on 29 March 2003, given the difficulties involved in prosecuting sex offenders in general and foreign paedophiles in particular. After the conviction of the notorious Freddy Peats in Goa on March 21 1996 not a single conviction of a foreign paedophile has taken place. This is ironic, considering that there is a great deal awareness about tourism related paedophilia in Goa today and unlike in the past, today the State too acknowledges the existence of this problem. The number of convictions or the lack of it actually defines the extent of the problem.

Today when NGOs lodge complaints with police officers they do not cast aspersions on the credibility of the complainants, as was often the case earlier. There are police officers in Goa who have investigated cases very effectively. The sad reality is that the will to effectively deal with this problem on the part of the State as a whole is still lacking. The police, the prosecutors, the courts, the Home Department and other state agencies involved have to be committed to stopping the menace of paedophilia.

The details of the cases given below illustrate the point:

Freddy Peats
Arrested on 3 April 1991, he was granted bail within 45 days, after which he freely roamed the state of Goa till he was convicted five years later. The Sessions Court expedited the case only after Mumbai-based child rights activist, Sheela Barse, filed a writ petition in the High Court in 1995 praying that the Sessions Court proceed with the trial on a daily basis. This resulted in Freddy Peats being sentenced to life imprisonment on 21 March 1996.

Kenneth John Clark
An 18-year-old boy from Andhra Pradesh filed a First Information Report against Kenneth John Clark, a British national on 9 October 1996, following which he was arrested by the Colva Police Station and charged under sections 372 and 377 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC). The boy alleged that Clark subjected him to anal sex on several occasions. Apparently Clark also allegedly forced this boy to have sex with a 14-year-old boy in his presence. Clark was let off on grounds of insufficient evidence.

Ernie Jean François
In December 1996, Umed, a child rights organisation, received a complaint against Ernie Jean François, a Swiss national aged 52 years, who had brought a nine-year-old girl from Pune, with whom he was residing in Calangute. An informant told Umed that he had been visiting Goa each year since the last three years and that he always brought different children with him. The girl accompanying him at the time had reportedly been with him for almost a year, visiting various parts of India and not going to school. Umed brought this case to the notice of the local police. However, François was allowed to leave the country on 12 March 1997, as the police were apparently unable to find evidence of sexual abuse.

Peculiar features about this case underly the problem faced generally. The police took the girl away from the custody of the suspect only 10 days after Umed filed its complaint. No representative from Umed was allowed to be present for any hearings of the case. The conclusion of the case was communicated to Umed through an official letter from the Home Department of the state government. The letter states that the first medical report ruled out "the possibility of any forceful sexual intercourse" (emphasis added). It goes on to say "in a subsequent medical report the doctor has stated that on interrogation the child admits to having sexual intercourse with more than one person." But apparently, she had not had sexual intercourse with Jean Ernie François. No medical reports were attached to this letter and Umed's written request for the documents met with no response.

Although Umed representatives were not permitted to interview the child, it seems that the chairperson of the National Commission for Women, Mohini Giri met her. On 20 March 1997, The Hindustan Times reported that Ms Giri was 'rattled' by her encounter with this girl. The girl reportedly told her that 'the Swiss uncle would bathe her every morning and at night he showed her blue films and patted her on her face.' He would put her to sleep 'kissing her everywhere'. These sensational revelations did not result in any action on the part of the state, nor was it followed up by any action on the part of the National Commission for Women.

Meanwhile François continues to visit Goa.

Yvonne Rene Wallez
In March 1998, a case was registered by the Calangute police station against a 67-year-old man of Belgian origin, Yvonne Rene Wallez, for sexually abusing a 15-year-old handicapped boy under Sections 373, 377 and 294 of the IPC. However, on 13 May 1998, Wallez was found dead in his room. Jagrut Goenkaranchi Fauz (an organisation concerned with the social impact of tourism) had demanded an inquiry into the death of this man to ascertain whether this man had committed suicide to avoid judicial trial or whether any paedophile associates were involved in his death. However no follow-up was done by the police in this case.

Helmut Brinkmann
In August 1998, some residents of Calangute complained to the police about Helmut Brinkmann, a German aged 53, that he was a paedophile. This was a unique case because the child, a boy around 14-years-old testified against him and forensic examination revealed the presence of sperm in the anus of the child and it was proved that the sperm was of the suspect, Helmut Brinkmann.
Brinkmann was convicted for unnatural sexual offences by the Assistant Sessions Judge, Nutan Sardessai, and awarded rigorous imprisonment for six years. Brinkmann was later acquitted on appeal by the Additional Sessions Judge, D R Kenkre, on seemingly technical grounds.
It is interesting to look at the two judgements, which establishes how the same facts can be given such a diverse interpretation, based on the mind-set of the individual in office. In trial court's judgement three issues were formulated: Firstly, was the boy kidnapped? - In which case the accused would be liable under Section 363 IPC. Secondly, whether there is proof to convict the accused under Section 373 of the IPC; which pertains to buying or hiring a minor with the intent of or knowing it to be likely that such a person shall be used for either prostitution or illicit intercourse or any purpose which is unlawful or immoral. Thirdly, whether the accused committed unnatural sexual offences punishable under Section 377 of the IPC. The court ruled that there was no evidence of kidnapping, but there was evidence to convict the accused under Sections 373 and 377.

In the appeal court's judgement the two points formulated were: Firstly, whether the victim boy is an accomplice in commission of the crime and secondly, whether there is evidence to convict the accused under Sections 373 and 377. But while he has ruled that the victim is an accomplice in commission of the crime, he ruled that 'it is not proved that the guilty was indulging in unnatural offence'.

The judgement contends that to prove that the accused was guilty under Section 373 it was necessary for the prosecution to prove that the accused had carnal intercourse with the victim... and that it was against the order of nature. According to him 'the prosecution was required to prove Section 377 to prove Section 373'. A basic contention of the judge appears to be that the prosecution failed to establish that the accused had carnal intercourse with the victim. The judge ruled that the testimony of the child has to be corroborated in 'material particulars' for it to implicate the accused.

First of all, for a child to talk about being sexually exploited is rare, consequently a child's testimony needs to be given serious consideration. Moreover, in the judgement passed by Sardessai J. in February 1999 the trial judge viewed the evidence of spermatozoa in the anus as significant, as it was observed that it was not possible for discharge from the penis to fall on the anus of the same person. Kenkre J., however, has stated that 'discharge from the penis can fall on the anus' of the same person and has raised doubts about the possibility of sperm surviving for more than 48 hours without being 'washed out at the time of taking bath or cleaning the anus after natural course'. Sardessai J.'s contention was that it appears improbable that the sperm in the anus could belong to the same person, because of 'the anatomical position of the anus and the penis' (to quote Judge Sardessai's judgement).

Child rights activists were able to convince the State to appeal to the High Court against the decision of the Additional Sessions Court. But when the case came before the High Court child rights activists were aghast to learn that Brinkmann had left the country. The Public Prosecutor while informing the court that he was 'probably' not in the country, failed to draw the attention of the judges to the fact that the offender in question was a suspected paedophile.

In another travesty of justice the immigration authorities informed the Goa Police after Brinkmann had left the country in spite of a Look Out Circular against him.

Dominique Sabire Sabire was a Frenchman, aged 61 at the time of his arrest in 1999; an associate of Freddy Peats. A holder of two postgraduate degrees and a writer of bestsellers in French, he was caught at Delhi Airport, where he was in transit on his way to Thailand. There were previous references about his visits to Thailand in his letters. He left the country after jumping bail in February 2000, and continues to abscond. Ironically, the Campaign Against Paedophilia had warned the state of this possibility while conducting a campaign on the Brinkmann case.

Sabire was granted bail on 23 June 1999, but was required to report to the CBI office in Panaji every alternate day. He then made a plea that he be allowed to report to the Calangute Police Station as he was residing in Calangute. He was granted permission to do so from 16 February 2000. From 27 February he stopped reporting at the police station. However, Police Inspector Subhash Goltekar, who was in charge of the Calangute Police Station, informed the Public Prosecutor on 29 March, only 31 days after Sabire had stopped reporting to the Calangute Police Station, giving the Frenchman ample time to escape. Following this act of gross negligence on the part of this police officer, letters were written to the Director General Police demanding his suspension. However, to our knowledge, no action has been taken against him to date.
John Colin MiddletonMiddleton, a 71-year-old Britisher, was arrested on 19 March 2001 from a guest house in Benaulim where he was found with three Nepali children; two 13-year-olds and one 15-year-old, who he had brought with him from Nepal. According to Jan Ugahi and Childline, the organisations that had tipped off the police about the case, this man had a previous conviction for sodomy with a child in New Zealand. However, the Interpol has so far failed to respond to the inquiries of the Goa Police in this matter. Middleton was released on bail on 23 March 2001. His passport was later returned to him and he was allowed to leave the country. Unfortunately questions such as how three minor Nepali children were in his custody staying in the same room as him did not receive the attention they deserved.

Alan Dow
In May 2003 the police along with Children's Rights in Goa entered a hotel room in Calangute, and found Alan Dow with a 13-year-old girl, both skimpily clad and sharing the same bed. But as there was no forensic evidence Dow was allowed to leave the country and no case was registered against him.

From the case descriptions given above it is evident that serious attention needs to be given to the question of what needs to be done to protect children and prosecute paedophiles. In order to facilitate the prosecution of paedophiles the following points need to be realised by state authorities:o Investigation of cases of paedophilia should be given as much importance as cases of dacoity/narcotics and the NGOs should not be expected to do all the investigative work. Police should be motivated to investigate such cases by appropriate incentives, such as it reflecting positively in their service records.

Protocols need to be developed to ensure that paedophiles out on bail are prevented from escaping from the country. It should be a matter of procedure that the police communicate with immigration authorities and foreign embassies to alert them to the fact that the suspected offender should not be allowed to leave the country.

Sensitisation programmes have to be carried out among all those dealing with cases of paedophilia - the police, prosecutors and judges.

Existing laws should be used effectively to deal with cases of paedophilia until comprehensive laws are formulated to deal with cases of child sexual abuse.

Credit for this article goes to - Nishtha Desai, who is a child rights activist working with children in Goa.

I applaud her for her research and input but do not necessarily subscribe to all her viewpoints. For instance, the police need abuse specific education and training, incentives shouldn't matter.Secondly, there are NO LAWS against CSA and the Goa Children's Act is a state-specific deterrant which has it's limitations and loopholes as the aforementioned article clearly points out.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

‘Police not equipped to handle child sexual abuse cases’

New Delhi, January 3

With more and more skeletons of children being unearthed from the D5 house in Noida’s sector 31, the “lapse in law and order situation” in the area has become the focus of all attention. “What is getting completely overlooked is that, this is a case of child sexual abuse (CSA) of the most macabre kind, and needs professional handling. The police are ill-equipped to handle such complex cases,” says Rajat Mitra, a clinical psychologist researching violent offenders and sex offenders. "The whole extent of the crime," says Mitra, "has yet not been unearthed."

"The police have been handling this case as one of serial killing and homicide. But the primary issue here is of CSA, especially because such a large number of children were involved. There is a high possibility of more involvements. The owner-servant duo might be sharing their interest with others and there can be other accused also," says Mitra.
"Most importantly, missing children are immediately associated with having run away from home," says Mitra. "Knowledge about CSA is so limited even among the police that they seldom connect a case with CSA," laments Mitra.
CSA offenders often collect trophies or souvenirs from victims -- such as a precious object or possession of the child.
If the police were well-informed or trained about such crimes they would be looking out for evidence of this nature, otherwise they wouldn't even be able to recognise such evidence, he feels.
According to Mitra, this is primarily a crime committed out of lust. The accused are very organised and plan their acts very professionally. The suspects in these cases need to be professionally interviewed so that they reveal the diabolical planning and their organised network.
He says, as the duo readily confessed to their crimes, it could be possible that they are masking other crimes. It could probably be an 'escape route'. “The accused should be probed professionally for the full dimension of the case to be unearthed,” demands Mitra.
The extent of tortures that the duo inflicted on the children can be known only through a proper interview.
On most occasions, CSA offenders enjoy sharing their experiences with others and at times, are known to film their acts and watch them with other pedophiles. Even a web camera can be used for this purpose, says the researcher.
“CSA offenders are habitual offenders. This would in all probability not be the only place where they have committed the crime. Moninder Singh is known to have houses in other cities as well,” says Mitra.
He laments, CSA is not recognised in India. There is no documentation and very little reports to go by.

He cites the example of a CSA offender that he interviewed recently, when it gradually came to light that he had abused several other children in other cities. More probing revealed that even missing persons reports had not been lodged for these children.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Sexist Legal System ?

A shocking recent judgement of the Supreme Court holds that no person can be punished for attempt to rape under the IPC. In this case a man, Tarkeshwar Sahu, a resident of Jharkhand, had lured a twelve-year-old girl to his hut, removed his clothes and the girl’s, and was trying to rape her. The SC only convicted the accused of molestation under Section 354 IPC which states that assault ‘intending to outrage’ the ‘modesty’ of a woman is punishable with up to two years’ imprisonment. The judgement is based on an erroneous interpretation of the law and also highlights the need for extensive amendments to deal with the law on sexual assault in general and child sexual abuse in particular.

Apparently, the Supreme Court held that Section 511 of the IPC only deals with attempts to commit offences punishable by life-imprisonment. A reading of the section and its illustrations will show that this is not true. Section 511 deals with attempts to commit any offence punishable by imprisonment for life, or other imprisonment, for which no specific punishment has been provided for in the code. The section states that an attempt to commit an offence will be punishable with half the longest term of punishment that is prescribed for committing the respective offence.

In the past we have had occasions to criticise judgments on attempt to rape because the courts, including the Supreme Court, have been extremely reluctant to hold a person guilty of attempt, even though the accused had, in fact, been trying to rape. Often the courts have relied upon technicalities to rule out attempt, particularly in cases in which the attempt was not at the last stage of the act. The courts have done this by drawing a distinction between the preparation to commit rape and the attempt to commit rape, and have invariably, as in this case, imposed a relatively minor punishment for molestation (up to two years).

In some cases courts have relied upon an old case decided way back in the 19th century (Empress V/s Shankar) which had held that a person can be convicted for an attempt to commit rape only if his conduct indicates a determination to gratify his passions and in spite of all resistance. Thus in various cases where a woman cried out for help or hit the assailant and he ran away, the courts have held that it cannot be said that the accused was determined to have sexual intercourse.

In the case of Jai Chand V/s the State, even though the accused (a hospital orderly) had forcibly laid the complainant nurse on the bed and after breaking the string of her trousers and removed her sanitary napkin, the High Court held that no attempt to rape had been proved, as the accused had not gone beyond the stage of preparation! The Court then proceeded to alter the conviction by the trial court of attempt to rape to one under Section 354 IPC, and punished the accused with two years’ imprisonment. All these judgements are informed with a patriarchal notion of what constitutes an offence of attempt to rape, which has not changed since the 19th century.

The judgement of Justices S B Sinha and Dalbir Bhandari also underlines the need for a law on child sexual abuse and change in the definition of molestation and rape. Sexual abuse of a child, even when it is not penetrative, should be an even harsher offence than molestation of an adult woman. Moreover, often, the sexual abuse of a child is not only by touching, but also by penetration of fingers and other objects. This at present is not recognised as rape under our law.

Furthermore, any non-penetrative sexual assault should constitute molestation and should be subject to a much higher punishment, even for an adult, than at present. The present definition of molestation makes an assault on a woman culpable only if it is done with the intention of outraging her modesty (whatever that means). Earlier the SC had held in a 1967 judgment that all girls possess modesty which is capable of being violated. The Rupan Deol Bajaj judgment in a positive interpretation held that all acts which are an affront to the dignity of a woman outrage her modesty.

The present judgement by interpreting the law is to forever excuse a man who attempts to rape and is as culpable as a rapist in many senses, is not only regrettable, but needs to be immediately reviewed by the Supreme Court itself. The judgement sets a dangerous precedent and will allow rapists, who have been unsuccessful in their attempts, to go unpunished for their real crime and to continue to pose a threat to women and children.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Seven Important Steps

This link i found while perusing a most informative training and sensitization website for children and care-givers of children.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Adults and young children

It is perfectly normal to see an adult interacting with a child in a social situation. Parents and children, Teachers/Tutors and children, Nannies (ayahs) and children, Older siblings and children.

Sometimes, something doesn't feel right. A lot of women have mentioned things like a "bad gut" feeling about a particular adult's behaviour towards a child in a setting where adult-child interaction is a commonplace sight,say for example at a park or at the market. In many cases where alert women have actually managed to listen to their "gut" and avert further disasters (as was a case where a woman became suspicious of an elderly man and his behaviour towards a little girl and followed him. It turned out that the man and his wife were convicted serial child molestors who would have still been abusing children if this brave woman had not listened to her instincts and tracked them down).

Affection in any form, verbal, physical or simply via body language and reveal telltale symptoms that something is "just not right" in the situation. Here are a few things you need to look out for :

A person who -

Unnaturally controls the behaviour and decisions of a child?
Forces physical intimacy/affection on a child even when the child is clearly not comfortable with it.. (we call it "smothering the child with lust")

Harps on teenage sexuality/issues and verbally obsesses over sex and sexuality during interactions with children and young adults
Makes it a point to spend "exclusive" time with the child

Is overly interested in "hanging out" with the kids, even more than their own age group
Regularly offers to babysit and take children out for "treats" and games

Spends excessive amounts of money on the children (gifts,movie tickets,sweets)
Frequently walks in on children/teens in the bathroom while they are showering
Allows children or teens to consistently get away with inappropriate behavior

Is very in sync with current trends and fashions

If you feel that any of the above behaviour co-incides with the behavior of someone who sets your inner alarm bells ringing, do not panic. Instead, take deep breathes and consider the situation carefully. Assess the child's reactions to the person/people concerned and speak with concerned authorities if required to.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Thats not affection, thats child abuse

Excellent article written in April '06..

Elaan and the Law Against Child Sexual Abuse Campaign

As has been mentioned, there is NO LAW that makes CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE a Legally Punishable offence.
We at Elaan think that is grossly unfair to our constitutional rights and think it is high time that the people of this country banded together and petitioned for a separate law against CSA that not only punishes the perpetrator, but also creates a much-required demarkation between the abuse of a male child and the abuse of a female child.
The definition of Child Sexual Abuse and what constitutes it, also requires legal definition.
Here's an article that reports one Elaan event during which the legal situation was discussed.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

CSA and the Law - another great article on CSA and the lack of a law.

Everybody seems to be pretty clued into the fact that there is no law against child sexual abuse despite it's prevalence and magnitude, not to mention short and long-term impact on a child's psyche.. however, the actual paper pushing is nowhere close to pending.