What Allows Minors To Be Exploited? A Vicious Cycle Of Power And Privilege.

Disclaimer: The written piece is an opinion article based out of the facts and the cases witnessed so far. It does not contain any physical evidence or truth, yet it is important to acknowledge it in order to wash off the criminal intentions to build a better community for all.

Every now and then, we read the news on crimes around us, thanks to the internet and social media that such news and information reaches all of us. Everybody has a story to tell, however, most of us keep it hidden inside and choose to move forward, while few want to come out and speak in order to get justice but their harsh reality doesn’t allow them to reach there.

In the middle of everything, a question came to my mind, how do unexpected things start happening in the life of a victim? Is this all just a coincidence? As an issue of interest, I turned the pages and started my research. What amazed me was a noticeable pattern of events that occurs with the victim.

Another significant reality which came before me was, practically in a majority of the case, the victim was a minor and the accused was powerful. Another question that arose was, after losing so much, how can their victory be justice for the victim?

Let’s Acknowledge The General Scenario:

  1. The powerful overpower the victim, here, a minor, they take advantage of their powerful positions and contacts, commit the crime out of personal grudges, threaten the victim and then silently sit behind the curtains.
  2. Somehow the victim gathers the courage to file a complaint against the accused. If the victim does not claim out of fear or in order to save their own integrity, the accused misuses their power against them.
  3. People around show sympathy towards the victim and the police assure to protect the victim.
  4. Media covers this, people get emotional. It trends for a few more days on social media and gets trolled as well.
  5. Despite all these events either the victim, victim’s family or friends who are in open support are met with uncanny accidents, unknown and the unexpected truth keeps flashing everywhere over the internet.
  6. The victim is under tremendous pressure and is left with only two options – a) to put justice at stake and prepare to lose everything or b) sit back and protect their loved ones.
  7. After all of this, a legal battle is too challenging and expensive, and not everyone can afford it.
  8. If the victim selects option (a), even if they get justice, by the time they do, they have already lost everything. This victory is too expensive. Although the chances of victory are very less and in some cases, victims resort to suicide because of the sheer societal pressure or even may be killed by the accused in ‘an accident.’
  9. If they choose option (b), society doubts the integrity of the victim. And above all, there is no guarantee that the accused will let the victim live peacefully.
  10. The signature style of such powerful accusers – they block all communication for a few months, use indirect sources to threaten victims and their families without traces. One fine day when the story is no more in limelight, they smartly clean the mess.
  11. After a couple of months, the accused is again a free bird and ready to hunt.

I want to talk about the general scenario here, where victims are minors while the accused belong to the higher order. After long torture, the victim gathers courage and raises voice against the crime and in return, they have to undergo a series of unfortunate events which take away their lives and of their loved ones.

In order to get justice, they have to put their integrity at stake, they have to undergo extensive mental stress which sometimes leads to suicidal tendencies. Even when they get justice, they have nothing left to celebrate. Their victory can never be compensated. Can such a victory ever be appreciated?

We encounter such incidents quite frequently, whether it is sexual assault, fraud or mental torture. Minors, being commoners, hold less power and have to pay the price. Their cases are heard but nobody takes the responsibility to act. While, the accused sitting at higher positions take advantage of their positions, their contacts, they manipulate and intentionally make unexpected events happen, which eventually save them even after committing such horrible crimes.

The powerful authorities commit heinous crimes against the minors which are slowly swept under the carpet. Though people know the reality of how respected they are, nobody comes forward. Why? Because of their dirty exploitation of power.

The Unnao Rape Case

If we look at the Unnao rape case which has been in the limelight for quite a while, on June 4, 2017, a 17-year-old girl was brutally raped by the former BJP leader, Kuldeep Singh Sengar and three others. Sengar was also the Member of the Legislative Assembly from Uttar Pradesh, India.

The survivor was kidnapped and raped for nine days at different places by three people. Additionally, when the survivor was further questioned about the people involved in the activity, the woman said she changed her statement under threat given by the advocate Manoj Sengar.

The rape survivor was traumatised, tortured, and threatened, where she even attempted suicide. Her father died in judicial custody shortly thereafter and suddenly a truck accident happened, which caused serious injury to the victim and led to the death of her two relatives.

This cannot be a coincidence; this appears to be an intentional attempt to wipe off the truth, once and for all. It may sound strange but sadly, even after committing such heinous crimes, the accused is being protected and supported under the table. And even if the victim gets justice, they have to lose everything. I ask you – is this really justice?

Human Rights Watch projects more than 7,200 minors – 1.6 in 100,000 minors – are raped each year in India. Among these, victims who do report the assaults are alleged to suffer mistreatment and humiliation from the police. Minor girls are trafficked into prostitution in India; thus, the rape of minors conflates into a lifetime of suffering. Of the countries studied by Maplecroft on sex trafficking and a crime against minors, India was ranked the 7th worst.

What are we lacking? Straight-forward and stricter actions. The rape occurred in 2017, we discovered it in 2018 and are acting upon it in 2019. How distressing is this?

Besides this, there are many coincidences and manipulations that create hindrance in delivering justice. Somewhere, we all know the answer but most of us either prefer to be silent or accept the unjust results. This is how powerful people empower minors by threatening them for their personal and professional benefits. Why are we still entertaining the hypocrisy of the world?

Power privilege and exploiting the marginalised has to stop. This must be engraved in the minds of those sitting at the higher positions and exploiting it. When will we start acting against the powerful?

Featured image for representative purpose only.
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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

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Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
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