From offering toys to favourite food items, from sharing stories to dressing up like their mothers, women police officers employ several techniques to interact with victims of child sexual abuse.
From offering toys to favourite food items, from sharing stories to dressing up like their mothers, women police officers employ several techniques to interact with victims of child sexual abuse. On an average two children are raped daily in the national capital, according to data released by the Delhi Police recently.
According to the data, 739 cases of child rape have been reported until October 15 this year, while 921 such cases were reported in 2017. Investigating cases of child rape and interacting with children require a great deal of sensitivity, Madhur Verma, Deputy Commissioner of Police (New Delhi) said.
Recalling an incident in his district where a Class 2 student of a New Delhi Municipal Council-run school in the upscale Gole Market area was allegedly raped by an electrician on the institute premises in August, Verma said such children are often in a traumatic situation.
So the police take professional help to extract details from them. Child counsellors have a lot of patience and are trained in dealing such cases, he added. Utmost care is taken while interacting and extracting details from the child since the police need to ensure that the victim does not revisit the trauma, the senior officer said.
Child counsellors usually interact and counsel the victim about good and bad touch and use various story-telling techniques to gather input from the child, Verma said. The child is quizzed about the suspects by various methods in order to establish the identity of the culprit. Children are often quizzed about the accused on the kind of clothes they were wearing, have they spotted the accused before in the neighbourhood.
Where and when did you spot him? What did that uncle tell you? All these questions are asked in a very special manner so that the child gets comfortable in sharing the details and does not get traumatised, the officer added.
In the NDMC school rape case, police said they were able to extract a lot of details from the child who gave them information about the kind of clothes worn by the accused who had even earlier tried to approach the victim.
A woman officer, who has investigated cases of child rape, said they ensure they are dressed in civil clothes while attending to the child, adding that they try their best to keep children away from the police station while extracting information.
“We dress like their mother and try to comfort them. Offer their favourite food items and toys to distract their mind and make them comfortable since they have already been through a traumatic situation,” she said, requesting anonymity.
The children are usually taken to a one-stop centre that are set up in hospital where the woman officer in the presence of the child’s mother and a counsellor try to extract details, the woman officer said.
“The room is quite lively with toys and the ambience tries to distract the children. We even make them sit on our lap and try speaking to them so that they can open up without fear,” the woman officer added.
In another incident, in October, a 79-year-old man was arrested for allegedly raping an eight-year-old girl on the pretext of giving her a chocolate in northeast Delhi’s Khajuri Khas. In this case, the accused was the neighbour of the victim.
The police said in most cases, the accused are known to the victim. Terming each case of child rape different in its nature depending on the situation, the police said in cases where the victims are infants or toddlers, they said crime scene plays a vital role in extracting information and accordingly, they prepare of a list of their suspects, another senior police officer said.
In Januray, an eight-month-old girl was allegedly raped by her cousin in northwest Delhi’s Subhash Place.
The identification of suspects mainly depends on the crime scene, police said, adding if the child was raped inside a school, the suspects could range from teachers, employees of school and other students. And in cases where the child was raped inside or near their house, the accused could be in the vicinity including a relative, friend, enemy or anyone known, the senior officer said.
The background of the crime plays a vital role in collecting primary data in such cases, he said.
Police said children are easy targets and in most cases, the accused persons usually set their target in their vicinity so they need not travel kilometres to fulfil their task and instead wait for an opportunity to execute their crime.
In October, a Class 10 student of a government-run school was allegedly raped by four men who lured her with an offer to buy her a pizza in east Delhi’s Kalyanpuri.
Advocate and child rights activist Ananth Kumar Asthana said that even though the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act requires female police officers to play a crucial role in child sexual abuse cases, as of now the number of female police officers is very inadequate and stressed on the need for special skills in dealing with children in such cases.
“There is a need for regular training and sensitisation programmes for police. And all cases of child sexual abuse must be reported to Child Welfare Committees and in turn the committee must provide assistance to such children,” he added.
He also asserted that even if legal provisions in this regard are in place but its implementation is still lacking to the extend required.