Girls face `in-house' assault threat

NEW DELHI MARCH 30. Involvement of persons known to the victim in incidents of criminal assault has always been a disturbing fact. Crime figures show that apart from neighbours, even persons living in the same house add to the woes of girls.

A look at the crime figures of the past five years reveal that known persons, excluding the neighbours -- whether known or unknown -- have been responsible for over a third of the total number of such incidents reported. While in 1998, such persons accounted for 36.5 per cent of the incidents of criminal assault, the following year it went down marginally to 32.1 per cent. In 2000, the known persons accounted for 40.7 per cent of cases. In 2002, known persons, excluding the neighbours, accounted for 42.2 per cent of cases.

Taken together with involvements of neighbours, known persons have been found responsible in roughly 85 per cent of the cases. While in 1999, they accounted for 79.8 per cent of the cases, next year they accounted for 85.1 per cent of incidents. The trend has remained more or less the same over the past three years.

Experts point out that in quite a number of cases, people who are close to the girl turn assaulters. For instance, many girls come to the Capital from small towns in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and other States, escorted by relatives like distant cousins or uncles. The girls remain nervous in the new surroundings and tend to depend for trust on the persons who brought them to the Capital. Often, these men betray the trust and assault the girls.

In fact, quite a number of cases of assault come in the form of continuous abuse as the girl is not able to complain to anybody in the absence of proper support systems.

Another group responsible for such assaults is that of tenants and landlords. While over the year their involvement seems to be coming down, but the number of friends accused of criminal assaults have remained steady around 15 per cent.

It is against such a scenario that experts stress the need to teach self-defence techniques to girls as also how to carry themselves. However, owing to the fact that most of the mothers -- who could help their daughters -- have to go out for work, there is nobody to lend a helping hand to the girl child who remains vulnerable.

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