When rape by juveniles becomes a trend

Two weeks ago, when the Meghalaya police picked up 16 persons in connection with the December gangrape of an 18-year-old, eight of them turned out to be juveniles in the age group 13 to 17. In June, when a young woman from Tripura was kidnapped and gangraped in Byrnihat in Meghalaya, at least one of the three culprits was a juvenile. In the Delhi gangrape, one of the six accused has claimed he is under 18.

"It is a matter of concern that juveniles are being found involved in such heinous crimes as rape. More alarming is the fact that they are found to be part of gangs that indulge in such crimes, like the one in Williamnagar on December 13," said Agnes Kharshiing, secretary of Civil Society Women's Organisation, a Shillong-based NGO.

Kharshiing blames the government for the increasing trend of juvenile rapists. "When there are dozens of wine shops even near schools and religious institutions, when there are more wine shops than medicine shops and bookstores, what else can we expect from our young people?" she says.

The latest available report of the National Crime Records Bureau shows that Meghalaya, a small state with a population of 29.64 lakh, saw 21 juveniles arrested for rape under IPC section 376 during 2011. The much larger Madhya Pradesh, whose population is 7.25 crore, had a high of 281 juveniles apprehended on rape charges. In terms of such cases per unit population, it leaves Meghalaya with a rate nearly twice that of MP.

Among other northeastern states, Assam too has a high count, with the NCRB report showing the apprehension of 36 juveniles for rape during 2011. Other states in the region had fewer such apprehensions — Nagaland had five, Tripura three, Mizoram and Sikkim three each, while neither Arunachal Pradesh nor Manipur had any. In molestation cases, Assam counted four juveniles apprehended, Mizoram three and Tripura two.

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