Official data of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) reveals that sexual crime committed by juveniles (16-year old) is 2.4 percent whereas sexual crime committed by juveniles of all age is 3.4 percent of the total crimes committed in 2013. In the same year sexual crime cases include 1,624 registered cases of assault on woman with a purpose to outrage her modesty, 387 cases of insult to modesty of women and 2,074 cases of rape. 2,838 cases have been registered against juveniles aged between 16-18 years for committing sexual crimes.
Looking at the overall figures, 70,739 cases of assault on woman with a purpose to outrage her modesty, 12,589 cases of insult to modesty of women and 33,707 cases of rape have been registered in 2013.
The NCRB data from 2002 to 2012 reveals that there is 143 percent rise in the number of rape cases by juvenile.
Along with the rise in the number crimes by juvenile, the severity of crime has also increased to manifold. It is obvious from the brutal gang rape case in Delhi and Mumbai in which minor committed the crime. The minor involved in the December 16 Delhi gang-rape case did the most evil act but he was sent to a reform home for three years as a punishment after found guilty. Such juveniles are generally aware of the loopholes in the system and thus intentionally get involved in crimes.
Recently Women and child development Minister Maneka Gandhi proposed to change the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 (JJA). She recommended that 16-years old child involved in heinous crimes should be treated as adult.
The JJA 2000 is applicable to the entire India except for Jammu and Kashmir and applicable to all the children who are under 18-years of age and committed crime. It is also applicable to the children who need care and protection.
There are two special provisions for children in the Indian Penal Code (IPC). IPC is the primary penal law in India. As per these provisions anything wrong done by a child of age below 7 years is not an offence. JJA 2000 imposes corrective measures but no punishment. As per JJA 2000 each police station should have a special police officer to deal with children and must be trained to handle children in a friendly manner.
But we do not have a legislation which can be applied if a child commits a serious crime. Whether we should have a law for giving adult punishment to the children involved in adult crime is still a debatable topic as nothing has been done in this regard.
In India number of female police is far less as compared to male. Because of this many sex crime cases go unreported. The national capital has just 7 percent women police officers. Also the police in general is far less to protect ordinary citizens of India.
The court system in India is also extremely slow. There is one judge for every 1 million people.
India had been named as one of the worst countries in the world for women by the Reuters TrustLaw group. In a report by the UNICEF in 2012, 57 percent of Indian boys and 53 percent of girls aged between 15 and 19 years considered wife-beating as a valid act. How can a kid with such a mentality and the one who keeps seeing his father beating his mother be brought up as a responsible citizen? In such a scenario we are bringing up criminals.
Low status of women in our society can be regarded as the biggest problem of this issue. In most of the poor families girl child is treated as a burden. That is why female infanticide and sex related abortions are on rise in India. All these increase crime against women.
Seeing this, we must work towards the issue and eliminate all the circumstances which make our children criminals. Public agencies, NGOs and other such organizations must take pragmatic steps and work on community basis to educate families, children and youth. They must be shown positive ways of living a life and must be familiarize with the ways to spend their spare time. Also volunteer opportunities can be offered to them.
Generally children brought up in a distorted family or in a family where its members do not care for each other develop criminal tendencies. Family bonding plays an important role in the development of a child. Parents must spend quality time and keep an eye on their children. Criminal tendencies also develop because of psychological problems, alcohol or drug addiction, stress and social disorganization.
Government must take preventive measures to reduce the juvenile crime rate in India. Laws should be amended to incorporate the changes coming in the society. Children are the most important asset of any nation. Give them a healthy environment to live and develop into a responsible citizens.