Why the increase in Juvenile Delinquency?

I am sure that each one of you is equally perplexed as I am reading and listening about the multiple incidents of juvenile delinquency including the 2012 Nirbhaya rape case and the very recent Ryan School murder case.

I understand that one minor is held for rape every four hours on an average in India. There were 6,039 arrests between January 1, 2014 and December 31, 2016 (that’s one arrest every 4.3 hours). One minor is apprehended every two hours for assault on women with intent to outrage their modesty. 23,25,575 cases were registered against juveniles under IPC crimes in 2011. The number steadily rose to 29,49,400 in 2015.

These statistics are from National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB)‘s annual data compilation for 2015 and 2016.

One in every two children is a victim of sexual abuse and yet we don’t want sex education to be a part of the education system.

Another headline that shocked me on Children’s Day is Offences against children increased fourfold in last two years.

“A total of 89,423 crimes against children were reported in 2014. The number went up to 94,172 in 2015 and 1,05,785 the next year, according to a report by India Today.

Between 2014 and 2016, the number of crimes recorded under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) went up from 8,904 to 35,980 – a fourfold jump, the report says.”

Last year, two juveniles shot dead an Uber driver and dumped his body. This morning I read about an 18-month-old raped by a 21-year-old.

Sociologists and Psychologists across the nation have been pointing out that this issue is not just a sociological one but a psychological one too. Some of the most common causes associated with juvenile crimes are: Poverty; Drug Abuse; Anti-social Peer Group; Easy availability of firearms; Abusive parents; Single-parent child; Nuclear Family; Family Violence; Child sexual abuse and Role of Media.

During the Nirbhaya trial the juvenile who was said to have been the most brutal of the lot had months left to be 18-years-old, yet he was tried as a juvenile and I understand that he is now reformed, rehabilitated and is walking free. While I have no mercy for this man and the many others like him, I do really want to look at why these children are behaving the way they are and if there are ways we can correct them.

Deteriorating of emotional connect due to lack of time – However much we deny children are deprived of their childhood and their time with their family members in this fast-paced world. There is usually no time left for social gatherings or family outings which help strengthen the one-to-one bond between family members. We ought to manage our time to include daily family time wherein everyone has the freedom and excitement to share their achievements, insecurities, fears and problems. The best possible way is to have breakfast or dinner together. If not, an evening snack.

Easy access to media and gadgets – I wish people in India took the PG (Parental Guidance) ratings seriously and control what the child has access to. The next big culprit being the easy access to internet and unmonitored Apps and videos. Children are sensible enough to understand that there are certain things that one can have access to depending on the age. If dealt with maturity this can be instilled in the child conveniently and without having to lie about anything. The more you lie or hide from them, the more anxious and curious they are. Remember, forbidden fruit is the sweetest.

Cinema and Television – All that a media house or television company now cares for is TRP. The concept of Prime Time has gone for a toss. As young children (mostly latch-key kids) browse through the hundreds of channels that are now available, all they witness is the glamorization and of sex and glorification of violence. While I do not justify the extreme censorship of movies by the censor board, I do urge parents to set controls on what your child watches in your absence. Getting children interested in reading or engaged in a creative activity of their choice will be a much better option.

Neighborhood Watch – I am an old school girl. We (my younger sister and myself) were raised single-handedly by our mother who was a school teacher. We were left alone at home all by ourselves on many days since the tender age of five. But, there were neighbours who would keep checking on us every now and then. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration if I say that I am more comfortable and close with many of my neighbourhood aunts and uncles than many of my family members. This is something that is lacking these days. Most families are nuclear and live in flat accommodations where nobody is interested in anybody else’s life. There needs to be a sense of community, a sense of familiarity and emotional connect between people. This is what children these days lack. We hear so many cases of death or depression due to loneliness. These are easily preventable if proper community recreation and gatherings are organised from time to time.

Lack of Physical Touch or Care – You read that right. Often times we tend to ignore the power of touch or of speech. A loving hug, a goodnight kiss or an encouraging compliment can do wonders to your child’s emotional requirements. It instills a sense of security in them and makes them feel loved and cared for. A sense of moral and social values should be instilled in them since the very beginning. Most importantly, we must lead by example as parents and elders.

Undoubtedly, every delinquent child is a victim of his/her circumstance. No one is a born criminal. Circumstances make him/her so. Socio-cultural environment, both inside and outside of home, plays significant role in shaping one’s life and overall personality. So it is our duty, as parents, teachers, relatives, guardians, friends, to guide these vulnerable children onto the right path. It is important to remove the bad from the individual and not the individual. Children should be allowed and provided opportunity to grow up in a healthy socio-cultural environment so that they could become responsible citizens, physically fit, mentally alert and morally healthy.

I would love to know if there’s anything to add to the above list to help/correct our children well in time. I am sure we do not want to see another child accused of raping, murdering or abusing anyone. Do we?

Prerna (Short Story)

Revathi had a pretty hectic day. She packed up her laptop and other stuff and got out of the office. She hurriedly pulled out of the driveway.

At Madhuban Chowk, she had to stop at a crossing because of red light. It was a three minute red light and she looked sideways to kill time. She saw a young girl sitting on the pavement. She was pretty. Innocence dripped from her face. From the looks of it she wouldn’t be aged more than 14 years. She couldn’t take her eyes off the girl. She felt connected to her in some way. Revathi smiled. The girl reciprocated with a broken smile.

Just then the light turned green and Revathi moved on.

In the next couple of days, Revathi saw the girl many a times around the same time and at the same red light. A smile was all they shared. But deep within, there was a fondness that she had felt for this little angel.

Some souls are linked across time. Some connections are made with the heart.

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Usually on Fridays Revathi leaves office early to join her friends at a pub or a restaurant or else it’s a night out at a friend’s place. But today, as the office hours got over, Mr. Khurana had asked her to finish an important strategic report and send it to him before midnight so that he could go through it before he travels to Paris on Saturday noon. She was fuming with anger. She had to answer multiple calls and refuse every single friend. Friday nights are what she always looked forward to. It helped her get out of this monotony between work and her studio apartment in Gurgaon.

She finally clicked ‘Send’ and rushed out of the office. She was completely exhausted. It was a long day. She wanted to get back home as fast as she could, gobble up something and fall flat on her bed.

She reached the same red light. It was 10 past 11. She was late than her usual timing.

There she was. The pretty girl. Standing all alone on the pavement as if waiting for someone. At first sight it looked like she was dressed up for a party. Full make-up, flashy figure-hugging clothes and matching high heel stilettos. Dressed to kill like they say. But her face painted a different picture. One of doubt, anxiety, fear, hopelessness and helplessness. Revathi saw the girl looking at the opposite side of the road. As Revathi looked to the opposite side, she saw a pot-bellied middle-aged man who was signaling to her while talking on his mobile phone.

A few seconds and a chauffeur-driven BMW stops by on the other road. The girl gets into it.

A chill ran down Revathi’s spine.

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Murmuring to herself Revathi got into the lift and then into her apartment. She barely managed to freshen up and sip a little water. She went and lay down on the bed. Turning and tossing for quite a while before she finally got out of the bed. She walked up to the window and sat on the window-sill with moist eyes. She thought to herself, “If it was not for Aamna Di, my future would have been the same. 

Suddenly it seemed like she was enlightened. She immediately changed, picked up her car keys and wallet and got out of the apartment complex.

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Revathi was 9 when she was sold off to a pimp in Karimangalam in Dharmapuri district of Tamil Nadu by her own parents. She was told that the ‘Mama’ will take her to big city and admit her to a big school so that she can study better. The train journey in the unreserved compartment to Mumbai Central was something that remains engraved within her till date. Stuffed together like cattle, most faces reflecting the uncertainty of their lives and unaware of what future holds for them.

If Aamna Di, the God-sent angel, wouldn’t have picked her up from the station that day before she was being deported to Kamathipura, Mumbai’s oldest and Asia’s second largest red-light district, Revathi would have ended up as probably the youngest prostitute ever.

Aamna Di admitted her to Prateeksha, a shelter home for children. After making the necessary arrangements as she was leaving Prateeksha, Aamna Di looked back. Revathi walked up to her with anxious eyes. Aamna Di picked her up, hugged her and said, “I have ensured your admission into one of the good schools out here. Give it your best. And for anything you need, I am here always.

Revathi still remembers the pride and joy in Aamna Di’s eyes when she informed her of her brilliant performance in All-India CBSE Class XIIth Examination. Aamna Di ensured that Revathi got admitted to the best B-school possible. Revathi, now the Operations Head at a prestigious multinational company, owes her life to Aamna Di.

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Revathi waited patiently at the Madhuban Chowk red light.

The same BMW stopped a few steps ahead and the poor girl got out and walked slowly and aimlessly.

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The next morning, Revathi woke her up with a peck on her forehead, “Prerna. Yes. That’s what I have named you. It means Inspiration. Get up and get ready to inspire the world. It was not your mistake. Forget your past and move ahead with me. I am here for everything that you need.”

As Revathi got ready and was about to leave the apartment, she turned back and waved to Prerna with the most beautiful smile on her face. A smile of contentment. Prerna ran up to her, hugged her as tears rolled down her cheeks. Revathi wiped off her tears and said, “No more tears. Never again. Only smiles. Together we’ll overcome this. I am with you.

Sometimes all a person needs is a hand to hold and a heart to understand.

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Prerna is a short story I wove inspired by Dr. Sunita Krishnan, an Indian social activist and chief functionary and co-founder of Prajwala, a non-governmental organization that rescues, rehabilitates and reintegrates sex-trafficked victims into society. This video of her talk at TED platform was one that will stay with me for years to come and might help me do my bit for mankind.

While most of us accept defeat and withdraw ourselves from life at the smallest hint of troubles, this lady chose to fight back and help victims of similar abuse. I completely agree with her that these evils exist because there is a demand which is being addressed. If we banish those few from among ourselves, we can get rid of these atrocities to a large extent.

Together We Can.

#humantrafficking #sextrafficking

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Mardaani – Movie Review

Official_Poster_of_Mardaani
About a month ago, I read a lot of outrageous comments about the title of movie Mardaani as it means ‘like a man’ or ‘manly’. Honestly it doesn’t matter to me what the title is or what it means. To me Shivani Shivaji Roy (Rani Mukherji) is a character I wish each one of us could have been. The movie is a very well made one. Much much better than many of the otherwise commercially successful blockbusters.
 
Shivani lives with her husband Dr. Bikram Roy (Jisshu Sengupta) and her niece Meera. Pyaari (Priyanka Sharma), a teenager, vanishes overnight from a shelter home in Mumbai. A senior crime branch officer with a heart and mind of her own, Shivani sets out on a journey in search of Pyaari whom she had once rescued from a railway station. This leads Shivani into a complex world of international drug and child trafficking racket being run from Delhi. The story is about how Shivani manages to uncover the mastermind behind the racket.
 
Rani has played Shivani very well but I felt it could have been played with a little more intensity. Karan Rastogi alias Walt (Tahir Raj Bhasin), the mafia kingpin has done a brilliant job and keeps one waiting till he comes face to face with Shivani in the climax. The dialogues between Shivani and Karan throughout their Cat and Mouse chase keep one thoroughly engaged. A special word of appreciation for Tahir Bhasin, who has done complete justice to his role. A real talent to watch out for in future. Every character gets a good chance to leave a lasting impression irrespective of the duration of time s(he) is on screen.
 
Mardaani definitely is Pradeep Sarkar’s best work after Parineeta (2005). With a strong storyline, brilliant editing, a strong protagonist, an equally strong antagonist and an awesome crew of supporting actors, the song-less movie has everything from drama, action and emotion. It is a complete thriller. The film exposes threadbare the not so often discussed issue of child and sex trafficking. It appears scary and disturbing at times and is a strict NO-NO for children. I was surprised as well as annoyed to see parents walking out of the movie hall with children below the age of ten. Shivani’s role will definitely leave a powerful impression on many minds and will make a lot of parents enroll their children into self-defense courses.
 
There’s also a strong underlying message for the law and order system in India. If law cannot bring justice for the victims, more and more criminals will walk freely and commit brutal crimes openly. I will not be surprised if more and more criminals get punished by the public since the law doesn’t seem to be acting within a stipulated time period. Rather the law seems to be supporting them with enough and more loopholes available for them to escape.
 
The anthem that goes along with the credits at the end too is very well written and sung. Sunidhi Chauhan alone could have given it the intensity it required. 
 

Release: August 22, 2014
Director: Pradeep Sarkar
Production: Yash Raj Films
Cast: Rani Mukerji, Jisshu Sengupta, Tahir Bhasin, Sanjay Taneja
Music composed by: Shantanu Moitra, Karthik Raja
Genres: Crime Fiction, Thriller, Drama, Action
Rating: 4.5