Mumbai: Observing that the father lays the foundation for security, trust and love but in this case the victim’s father himself caused her immeasurable pain, a special court on Monday sentenced a 37-year-old man to 25 years in prison.
The 13-year-old daughter, then studying in Class 7, had been sexually assaulted by the man repeatedly for more than a year. He had threatened her with beatings were she to disclose it. The girl had finally confided in her paternal grandmother, who lived with them, when she missed her period and her grandmother enquired about it. The man’s mother then lodged a police complaint against her son.
The wife of the man had left him due to his drinking problem. The teen lived with her grandmother, father, two uncles and siblings. The court commended the grandmother for seeking justice even though she would be required to look after the three children of the man in her old age.
“A father makes his daughter’s life safe and protects her from getting hurt. But the victim’s father himself has caused immeasurable pain to her. The childhood trauma is bound to affect the victim,” the court said, while refusing him leniency.
The court also referred to the long duration of time that the child kept quiet and said that it did not appear that she had knowledge that she would be cared for and protected if she raised her voice. Citing provisions of the POCSO Act, it said there were rules for spreading awareness and also if the child needed to be taken away from home and placed in a children’s home or a shelter home. Special Judge under the POCSO Act Bharti Kale said the Acts and rules were in place and there was need for spreading more awareness about them. “Cases are detected and offenders are being punished. As per the POCSO Act, punishing offenders and taking appropriate steps for the protection of children are equally important. But maybe more thrust if on punishing, than protection,” Judge Kale observed.
The court said that the rules provided for creating awareness at every nook and corner, through media and in education material. “The court finds that the victim was not aware of the need to speak up and also, whom to approach,” it stated.
The court further said that in many cases, it was seen that children were made aware of good and bad touch through various programmes, held mainly at the initiative of the police department, such as ‘Police Didi’. It said that many children have opened up about their plight at such programmes and crimes are detected.