People's public hearing on all
forms of torture, degrading treatment, and sexual abuse of children
Excerpts from interim verdict of the jury panel
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This public hearing on all forms of Torture, Degrading Treatment and Sexual
Abuse of Children organised in Chennai on 27'h March 2002, springs from
this urgent consciousness and is geared to conscientisation of the community
to end this perennial, pernicious praxis. While child abuse is escalating,
law notwithstanding, the focus must turn on torture and sex abuse. Here
is the most macabre malevolence of sex torture and murder to obliterate
evidence of the horrendous crime.
Survivors cry in shame,
fatal victims leave their parents to tell the tale in tears of the missing
children and dead bodies as posthumous testimony of the killer- crime.
The horror of this scenario must rouse the rage of court and community,
and even the obsolescent law of evidence must yield to the discovery,
trial and punishment of the terrible paedo-murder increase. Ventilation
of these distressing situations is a necessary process to tell the country,
the government, the Human Rights Commissions and the police about this
'most unkindest cut of all-the indifference to the foulest offence against
humanity viz sex torture and heartless termination of the victim.
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19 organisations who Jointly organised this People's Public Hearing invited
us to be Jury members for this Public Hearing organised at The Auditorium,
World University Centre, 18, V.R. Ramanathan Salai. Chetput. Chennai -
600 031. This became very necessary due to the escalation of violence
against children in Tamil Nadu and their inability/families inability
to gain justice for child victims of torture, degrading treatment and
sexual abuse/rape. This Public Hearing with the support of families and
organisations involved children, parents, relatives and social activists
deposing with facts about each case.
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In summary we state below the agonising details of some of the cases
that were deposed before us:
a) Sexual abuse, rape and forced prostitution:
A total of 9 cases where let in as evidence under this category. The first
was the case of P. Jayanthi now aged 22 years narrating incidents of her
being trafficked for forced prostitution at the age of 14 in the years
1994 from Pattabiram in Chennai to Mumbai, Hyderabad and Gulbarga. Her
long saga ended up with a FIR due to the consistent pressure of the legal
aid association for women of the AIDWA. Jayanthi was followed by a series
of minors - Manjula (aged 8 years) of Pallivaramangalam, Nageswari @ Rajeswari
(aged 15 years at the time of incident) of Virudhunagar district, Babu
Sindhu (aged 15 years) of Theni district, M. Ponnarasi (aged 13 years
and 5 months) of Virudhunagar district, B. Subi (aged 18 years) of Tiruvarur
district, R. Jeevanandam, Father of Kalai Jothi (aged 9 years) of Nagapattinam
district and finally Deepa (aged 15 years at the time of incident) from
All minor girls who
have been raped on tender ages and in most cases with no worthwhile legal
action that follows. In one of the cases, the victim has been ordered
to pay Rs.20,000/- for a DNA test by the court. In yet another case, the
women police station refrained from registering a case when a minor girl
had been raped and got her married to the perpetrator. It was the same
Inspector of the women police station who ultimately enquired the victim's
petition to the Chief Minister's cell!
b) Child murder torture and corporal punishment
A total number of 3 cases have been produced before the Jury panel under
this category. The first is the case of P. Jegadeesan (aged 16 years)
of Karur district who was caned by his teacher made to kneel down in the
corridor and walk four rounds on his knees led him to commit suicide by
hanging the same day in his grand parents' house due to the shame that
he had been put to. The second was the case of S. Mohan (aged 15 years)
of Tiruvarur district, who was charged with steeling Rs. 320/- taken into
toilet and battered. Subsequently the watchman of the school and another
poured kerosene on him and set him fire. Mohan died due to severe fire
injuries after 22 days of treatment. The third is the case of C. Ramesh
(aged 17 years) of Ariyalur district, a hostel student who witnessed the
sexual activities of his warden with the school Head Master. He was found
hanging in the class room with bruises on his face. Thus these three cases
are ample evidence to the brutal corpora! punishment the thousands of
students undergo day in and day out in the various schools of Tamil Nadu
Victims of female infanticide:
Female infanticide is permanent in Tamil Nadu. Of the 2568 reported cases
Dharmapuri in the years 2000, only 16 cases have been brought to book.
This practice has spread from 5 districts to 13 districts. From one community
it has percolated to several others. It is in this background that the
Jury heard three victims - Selvi Sathya. Manimegalai and Thangamari all
from Dharmapuri district in two related cases that had been filed. The
victims deposing brought to the consciences of the Jury, their plight
as children of parents who had been arrested in a family where a variety
of reactions had followed the case of murder registered against their
parents. The most arbitrary nature of the arrests in one of the cases
was that of Mrs. Chinnapappa, the elder sister of Rani (accused in the
alleged killing of the new born baby) who was not at all at the place
of occurrence but has been included as co- accused only to teach her a
lesson for the questions she raised to the police who were arresting her
sister Rani. These were examples pointing out how girl children of the
victimised family are facing new forms of torture and abuse by the state,
their community and also their family members. State by punishing the
mothers is doubly victimising her.
d) Caste discrimination:
The Jury panel was presented by four cases dealing with caste discrimination
and the heinous crime of untouchability. One case from the Usilampatty
taluk of Madurai district witnessed two boys aged 10 and 9 years, provided
evidence to the practice of untouchability in the school slating that
Dalit students are provided separate vessels and tumblers and Dalit children
are not even allowed walk with chappals in the Balwadies. Two other cases
namely, that of K. Meena (aged 17 years) of Ariyalur district and Mariammal
(aged 10 years) of Sivagangai district were the cases of rape and murder.
The case Meena is an incident that took place on 3'd March 2002, a day
before her 12'h standard examinations when she was raped and murdered.
Although the case has been registered under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities)
Act, the statutory compensation is yet to be paid. In the case of Mariammal,
the SC/ST (PA) Act has It not yet been included in the FIR. The fourth
case of Hemalatha (aged 6 years) from Coimbatore is a recorded case of
sexual assault of a Dalit girl whose parents were driven out of the village
since they dared to complain to the police. The family had to be housed
in Madurai due to the threat to their lives in spite of complaints to
'the District Superintendent of Police and the Secretary to the Government.
The caste discrimination
and the practice of untouchability have been declared to fall within the
definition of racial discrimination in Art. 1 of the UN Convention on
Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The continuous practice of this
caste based discrimination in the form of untouchability squarely falls
within the definition of torture.
e) Trafficked and bonded child labour
The Jury was presented with 5 cases of trafficked bonded labourers. They
were D. Kesavaraj @ Karthik, aged 17 years of Namakkal district, Anand
of Nellay district, M. Sadiq Basha of Erode, Arun of Thoothukudi district
representing 32 released bonded labourers most of whom are children and
Mohamed Sheik Farid aged 11 years of Nagercoil. In each of the cases they
were presented to the Jury panel the child bonded labourers have all complained
of extensive torture in their place of employment. While D. Kesavaraj
of Namakkal refers to his employment in Karnataka, Arun refers to his
employment in Maharashtra. In the case of Arun it was presented that they
were all beaten and suffered serious injuries which were duly photographed
and authenticated by medical reports issued at the Government Thoothukudi
Medical College Hospital.
Violence against children in Tamil Nadu (all persons under 18), both girls
and boys, encompasses all forms of physical & mental violence, injury
or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment by the State and includes, inter
alia, sexual abuse, trafficking, economic exploitation, corporal punishment
in schools, etc.
Violence is perpetrated against children in both and public and private
custody among relatives and in the neighbourhood, detention centers, juvenile
homes, schools and religious institutions by educators, employers and
state officials especially the police of all kinds.
The State is the biggest
perpetration of violence against children both through acts of commission
and willful negligence. Structural causes of violence against children
including the denial of social, economic and cultural rights, which is
exacerbated by globalization and resulting increased poverty and inequality.
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There is an urgent need to bring forth a bill of right to preserve and
protect victims' rights, justice and due process. A victim should refer
to a person against whom a criminal offence has been committed or if the
person is killed or incapacitated the person's immediate family other
than a lawful representative.
Such a bill of
rights should include the following:
o To be
treated with fairness, respect, and dignity, and to be free from intimidation,
harassment, or abuse, throughout the criminal justice process.
o To be informed, upon request, when the accused or convicted person is
released from custody or has escaped.
o To be present at and, upon request, to be informed of all criminal proceedings
where the accused has the right to be present.
o To be heard at the time of the granting of bail to the accused and sentencing.
o To confer with the prosecution, after the crime against the victim has
been charged, before a criminal court.
o To receive prompt restitution from the person or persons convicted of
the criminal conduct that caused the victim's loss or injury.
o To be heard at any proceeding when any post-conviction bail from judicial
custody is being considered by a competent court of law.
o To a speedy trial and prompt and final conclusion of the case after
the conviction and sentence.
o To frame rules governing criminal procedure and the admissibility of
evidence in all criminal proceedings protect victims' rights.
o To be informed of victims' constitutional rights.
The areas of rights
that should included in any codification of victims' rights in criminal
proceedings should cover the following areas:
o If a victim is physically or emotionally unable to exercise any rights,
he should be able to designate a lawful representative to exercise his
/her rights. Similarly if a victim is incompetent, deceased or otherwise
incapable of designating a representative, the Court may appoint a lawful
representative, if the victim is a minor or a vulnerable adult, the victims'
parents or other immediate family member any exercise all of the victims'
rights on behalf of the victim.
o Certain information
shall be provided to a victim by the law enforcement agency as soon as
after the registration of a criminal offence against the accused. The
law enforcement agency investigating the criminal offence shall provide
the victim a multi-copy form which allows the victim to request or waive
applicable rights and which provides the victim a method to designate
a lawful representative and finally provides notice to the victim.
o The realisation
of victims' rights requires a new class of Lawyers namely a Criminal Victim
Advocate. A Criminal Victim Advocate should be employed either by Legal
Services Authority or any non-government organisation to provide counselling,
treatment or other supportive assistance to victims of crimes.
o During the course
of investigation, the victim should be give a copy of the FIR, statement
of witnesses, and all other documents and provided an opportunity before
the filing of the final report (Charge sheet) to give his/her version
on the evidence to be placed by the prosecution in the Court.
o A victim shall be entitled to pre-trial notice so that the victim is
aware of the commencement of the criminal proceedings. This pre-trial
notice shall be provided to the victim by the Public Prosecutor in charge
of the case.
o The victim shall have the right to be present throughout all criminal
proceedings in which the accused has the right to be present. He/she also
has the right to be heard at the Initial appearance at the trial court
of the accused and be entitled to a copy of all documents that the accused
has access to.
o A victim has a right to leave work so as to be present at a criminal
proceedings. Therefore, no employer may dismiss an employee who is a victim
of a crime because the employee exercise this right to leave work.
o Before the conclusion of a criminal proceedings (after the finding of
the accused being guilty and before the questioning under Sec. 313 Cr.P.C.)
the victim shall have right to present a victim impact statement. This
victim impact statement shall contain an explanation of the nature and
extent of any physical, psychological or emotional harm or trauma suffered
by the victim and the extent of any economic loss or property damage suffered
by the victim. An opinion of the need for an extent of restitution and
details of whether the victim has applied for or received any compensation
for the loss or damage.
o The victim shall be entitled to monetary compensation in a case of conviction
'from a " child victim relief fund" and the state could recover
the amount dispersed to the victim from the proceeds /earnings of the
convict in prison.
o A victim shall be provided proper notice of discharge conviction or
acquittal orders in any criminal proceedings. Such notice shall be provided
by the office of the Public Prosecutor within 15 days of the conviction
or acquittal or discharge of the charge against the accused.
o The victim and his/her family shall be provided security/protection
o The victim shall be notified of the release of the accused from custody
or if the accused has escaped from the custodial agency where he/she was
o The victim shall be provided adequate notice of any appellate proceedings
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o No child shall be subject to any form of sexual abuse torture or cruel
or other inhuman degrading treatment or punishment and the state shall
take all the necessary steps in this behalf, forthwith.
o Child-labour in all forms, domestic or otherwise hazardous or non-hazardous
shall stand prohibited.
o We need urgently, imperatively, a legislation for child justice, a burgeoning
branch of victimology with special emphasis on and sensitive to particularised
aspects of child abuse. We must urge social activists, humanist NGOs,
statesman, politicians, jurists, the Bar and the Bench to give shape to
victimological jurisprudence to combat crimes against tender age, as it
is a shock and shame to any society to let its innocent generation be
tormented with impunity and callous immunity.
o The Government should enact a comprehensive legislation for child justice
incorporating the rights of the child in the Constitution, UNCRC and the
Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment
o Amend and incorporate into the criminal procedure code, provisions for
protecting victim's rights in continuance with justice and due process,
particularly relating to rehabilitation and compensation, as more particularly
indicated elsewhere in this report.
In the meanwhile, we urge upon the Government of Tamil Nadu to take
the following social measures on an urgent basis:
1. Identify and recognise the areas, both geographically and materially,
particularly in relation to classes of people who are poor and economically
and socially backward, where children have been systematically tortured
and sexually abused.
2. Take prompt and efficient steps to give protection to such children
and provide all support systems to the parents of the children so as to
enable them to over come the present suffering, and
3. Take all preventive measures to see that children are not driven into
further exploitation due to neglect and indifference.
o All these steps are to be taken a promptly, effectively and with the
maximum man-power available by various processes: such as expediting cases
which are pending, inquiring into lapses on the part of the administration,
if any, by giving support to such agencies like the Child welfare Committees,
or the Juvenile Justice Board under Juvenile Justice Act 2001, and also
activating the social defence structures, and giving aid to NGO's and
Human Rights groups and activists.
o That child rights,
women's rights groups and human rights defenders seriously study the Law
Commission of India Recommendations to review of rape laws made in its
172"d report in March 2000 recommending changes to Section 375, 376
and 377 IPC, modification of Section 114A of Evidence Act and a proposed
Section 53A to the Evidence Act.
o We recommend that the law of rape should include a punishment
for any one who either directly or indirectly commits any act connected
with the offence of rape including inducement to the women raped with
the objective of preventing her to withdraw from the investigation of
trial of the offence of rape or organising or participating in any procession,
rally, protest, strike, fast or any other act in relation to the commission
to the offence of rape with a view of obstructing with a proper investigation
of trial of the offence or attributing motive of age, religion, caste,
community or class or any of them in the commission of offence.
o That the concept of victims' rights be incorporated in the criminal
justice system so as to preserve and protect the rights of victims. Such
a bill of rights catering exclusively to victims should include the rights
to be informed, right to participate, right to have his/her safety considered
the right to be monetarily compensated and the right to be treated with
respect and dignity. Such a concept of victims' rights therefore require
a new class of lawyers namely, a Criminal Victim Advocate employed either
by the Central/State Legal Services Authority or non-Governmental organisation.
o The Government of India be called upon to immediately ratify without
any delay whatsoever the Convention against torture.
o The National Human Rights Commission of India should appoint a Special
Rapporteur on violence against children in order to solicit, receive and
exchange information on any form of violence or ill-treatment met to children.
Similar attempts at concerning itself on sexual abuse of children should
be initiated by the National Commission for Women.
o A special cell within the law enforcing machinery to be set up to safeguard
child rights, take cognisance of violations and violence against children.
o Sensitization programmes to be conducted for critical groups by all
the govt departments concerned with children, women, welfare, law enforcement,
SC/STs and others.
o A special commission for children at the Centre and in all states with
more powers than presently given to other statutory commissions must be
established with a district role for children in the commission.
o The District Advisory Committees for Crimes against Women, presently
existing in Tamil Nadu, could be reconstituted, with representation for
active child right organisations, and renamed District Advisory Committees
on Crimes against Women and Children and given an enlarged mandate to
take up crimes against children including preventive aspects.
o In each one of the wards of the cities, Gram Panchayats and Town Panchayat
of the districts there must a child rights protection committees consisting
of representatives of local government, NGO leaders and individuals who
are known for their Public reputation, integrity and service to the public
cause and concern for the freedom of individuals to report on all forms
of abuses of children and harassment's to the weaker sections in general
to the concerned authorities for immediate action. Equal representation
must be given to women, weaker sections including dalits and different
religious groups in the Constitution of such committees.
o Within a period of one month government must take effective steps to
rehabilitate the children who are affected by any kind of abuse. The accused
must also be punished within a reasonable period of time and the child
abuser made public.
o Make F.I.R.s/Post mortem certificates/charge sheets etc, public documents
to be made available on payment of a nominal fee.
o Scene of occurrence and the victims (showing their wounds if any) should
be mandatory photographed - photos are to be provided to the victims.
o Victims/NGOs should also step in and take photos - (there are instances
where the scene of occurrence is wrongly depicted - even the visible wounds
not taken note of in the accident register/postmortem certificate- this
would help to show the exact scene of occurrence and also the visible
wounds on the body of the victim.
o There should be a ban on cremating the bodies of victims who have not
died a natural death/bodies submitted to post-mortem too should not be
allowed to be cremated- they should mandatorily be buried.
o Victims have rarely any protection in the present scenario, more so
in the case of children. In many cases we found that the victims' families
had to flee their residence to other paces fearing reprisal by the accused.
In such circumstances, the Police should protect the victim and not the
accused. If the reverse happens, the Government should take a serious
view of it and take action against the erring policemen.
o In case of rape or death of the victim, monetary relief must be given
in the shortest possible time. A legal time-frame must be fixed.
o The state's ultimate responsibility for the protection of human rights
must be ensured regardless of who the accused are.
o In the case of sexual abuse of girl children, court verdict must be
time-bound, preferably not more than six months.
o All children subjected to sexual abuse should be provided counseling
services by the State.
o The right to life is the foremost human right. It begins with the right
to be born which, today, is denied. If the potential babe is of the girl
gender, foeticide is inhumanity and gender outrage. Likewise, infanticide,
when the innocent new born is of the female gender is also intolerable
inhumanity. These must be banished by a total ban and punitive severity.
Womanhood, from womb to tomb, from cradle to cremation, is sacred and
the law must render them basic justice. Never shall woman, whatever her
age or stage, suffer because of gender accident. Female infanticide should
not be seen as a criminal offence but seen as a social offence and a separate
law should be framed for this.
o A fund called Child Victim Relief Fund must be created by the government
and the victims be paid compensation - like a sum given in case of motor
accidents - (no fault liability). The State could recover the said sum
from the perpetrators of the crime later.
o All forms of torture and abuse of children in children's homes under
the Juvenile Justice Act should be stopped and offenders punished. It
should be the task of the State to create awareness about the provisions
of Juvenile Justice Act including definition of child male or female as
18 years. No child should be detained - handcuffed or arrested like an
adult or dealt with provisions of criminal justice meant for adults. For
the effective implementation Juvenile Justice Act formation of JWB with
suitable persons must be immediately in Tamil Nadu.
o It should be the responsibility of the State to sensitise all persons
in public or private institution on child rights and the doctrine of best
interests of children.
o Child line or Child Protection Centres to be established in each district
and located in child rights - friendly NGO's on call for 24 hours and
linked to such NGO's or child rights activists in each block Child Line
or child protection centres to be widely publicised in all schools and
o Provision of short stay homes for abused children for boys and girls
with special care facilities including psychiatric care.
o Harassment of children by teachers and management and corporal punishments
should be wholly abolished. The use of canes/scales in any class and in
all schools should be stopped immediately. Even the presence of scales
on the table of the teachers frightens children. Schools wherein any student
dies/subjected to any torture/or schools which meet out corporal punishment
should be taken over by the State and its assets seized and confiscated
by the government.
o In view of school children being abused by school staff resulting in
suicides and killings, it is imperative to appoint trained student counsellors
in all schools who also function as child rights defenders.
o In a number of cases reported the abuse had occurred in the school premises
and by school authorities. Department of School Education should be mandated
to intervene whenever such instances are brought to its notice, initiating
legal action against culprits, and counseling and rehabilitating affected
children. Administrative action should also be initiated against culprits.
o A mechanism to express their grievances on torture and sexual abuses
and have them redressed should be available to students within and outside
the school. The State Human Rights Commission must create a mechanism
to monitor torture in schools and allow for children who are abused to
depose before the Commission.
o Getting a school transfer certificate - which should be a fairly simple
matter - is a Herculean task for poor children who have had to shift residence
after an incidence of violence or abuse. Inability to get this certificate
has meant the end of education for many children. School authorities should
be more sensitive to this issue and not be bureaucratic and rigid. Officials
erring in this should face disciplinary action.
o Admission of students coming to the area on displacement due to slum
clearance, fire, etc and other causes must be given a first priority.
Since most abuse takes place within laboratories, special classes, outside
school hours and on holidays and while taking team? to play outside their
place, special preventive measures are to be taken to avoid any abuse.
Headmasters should be physically resent in the school when girl students
are in the campus and should be personally liable for their safety.
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-- Justice H. Suresh, Former Judge, Mumbai High Court; Dr. N. Markandan,
Former Vice Chancellor; V. Karuppan, Convenor, Dalit Struggle Committee;
Dr. V. Vasanthi Devi, Former Vice Chancellor and Chairperson, TNSCW; Dr.
S. S. Rajagopalan, Deucation Consultant; Ms. Mythili Sivaraman, National
Vice-President - AIDWA; Ms. Andal Damodaran, General Secretary, ICCW-
TN; Ms. Sudha Ramalingam, Member, National Council PUCL