Activists Question Removal Of Time Limitation On Reporting Child Sexual Abuse
- IWB Post
- October 11, 2018
Maneka Gandhi, Minister for Women and Child Development, has started the process of removing the statute of limitations when it comes to reporting child sexual abuse. After it is completed, there will be no limitation on survivors to report child sexual abuse even if it is after “10 to 15 years”.
But many activists are not entirely in favour of the decision and feel that this will only add to the survivors’ trauma.
“Let us try to understand why children do not report such crime,” said Aitya Bose of Aangan Trust, working for child protection. “We need to create an environment that enables children to speak about these issues. The solution isn’t changing the law. This is very multifaceted. We need to focus on what the survivor needs.”
As of now, adults survivors of child sexual abuse have no recourse to legal action because of the huge time gap since they suffered abuse.
“Children may not want to come out to their parents because of several emotional, psychological reasons, and also family dynamics. So the immediate and general response is to keep quiet,” said Suchitra Rao, a consultant on child rights to the Karnataka government and Unicef and called reporting and tackling child sexual abuse in India a “grey area”. She also pointed out that as the police prioritize existing cases in Karnataka, it may not have the resources to investigate these cases. “This puts more pressure on the police,” she said. “Investigation takes time and a charge sheet has to be filed within 30 days. The police may also have other priorities outlined for them. This raises concerns on practical aspects.”
“When a survivor goes to the police to file a complaint, they expect closure,” said Kushi Kushalappa of Enfold, which supports survivors of child sexual abuse. But she believes that removing the statute of limitations may never give them the closure they need. “Doing this may just add more burden on the police,” she added. “How do they go about investigating a crime that took place years ago? The criminal justice system also has its limitations. While adult survivors need closure, we need to ensure that the system is better so children today don’t face this.”
“The survivor would have to be cognizant of the fact that reporting a complaint would not necessarily lead to the perpetrator being punished. And this could add to the trauma. This is the social aspect of this change that needs to be looked into,” said Vidya Reddy of Tulir Centre for Prevention and Healing of Child Sexual Abuse.