On November 19, the world will come together to mark the Prevention of Child Abuse day. As we approach this important date, The News Minute is revisiting various cases of sexual abuse pertaining to children.
The horrors she faced came to light when she first shared her trauma with her elder sister. She had alleged that men who worked in their apartment complex at Ayanavaram in Chennai - security guards, plumbers, housekeepers and lift operators- had sexually abused her. In all, the survivor's statement led to the arrest of 17 men between the ages of 23 and 66 in July 2018. The Goondas Act was slapped against all of the accused. In September a charge sheet was filed in the case, following which 14 of the accused sought a transfer of the the probe to the CBI.
The accused claimed that they were innocent and questioned how the girl, who also has a hearing disability, was alive despite having been raped by them on multiple occasions. They further claimed that they have no previous convictions and that the allegations had cost them their jobs and reputations.
On October 31, Justice A D Jagadish Chandira of the Madras High Court rejected their petition for transfer of case to the CBI. The court made it clear that, "No specific material fact has been averted in the petition regarding mala fide exercise of power by the Inspector of Police who is the investigated the case. The petitioners have not made out any extraordinary or special grounds for transfer of investigation or for further investigation.”
The Special Public Prosecutor in the case, N Ramesh tells TNM that this is merely the first of many hurdles that they have crossed.
"They had no basis to even seek for a transfer. Their petition contained several false claims. They inflated the number of CCTVs present in the apartment complex to make it seem like nothing happened. But the truth is they knew exactly where each of the 50 monitoring devices were and committed the crimes only in the blind spots," says the advocate. "In addition to this, their counsel indulged in character assassination of the mother and even the 11-year-old girl. The accused are using words like 'she is easy’ for a minor. They even claimed at one point that the child was being fostered and was not biologically related to the family. It is despicable," he adds.
Advocate Ramesh is confident that the brutality of the crimes committed on the child will fetch the accused severe punishments.
"All 17 of them have sexually abused the child at various times and in varying degrees," he said. "One of their questions was how the child could bear this gangrape but the truth is, it was carried out in a planned manner. Only two of them have repeatedly raped the child. Of the other 15, a few have raped her while others sexually abused her. But it was never all of them together. It was like they took turns," he says.
The child's statement that has been recorded under section 164 of the CrPC, reveals exactly who abused her, their modus operandi and how she was trapped says the advocate.
"While they have not taken any videos of the child, they have exposed her to pornography and threatened her on multiple occasions," Ramesh tells TNM. "The charge sheet which has been filed states the offences based on the child's narration. When the case comes to trial, the extent of these accused's gruesome behaviour will shock the public."