Rashi Aditi Ghosh / Zee Research Group
The infamous Delhi gang-rape case had highlighted the increasing involvement of juveniles in heinous crimes. More perturbing, however, is the growing share of girls in juvenile crimes and apprehension.
According to the “Children in India - 2012” report released by the ministry of statistics and programme implementation, the percentage share of girls to total juvenile crimes have increased from 0.6 per cent in 2005 to 5.84 per cent in 2011.
Along with the percentage share in total juvenile crimes, the number of apprehension of girls under juvenile crimes too has increased in 2011. Societal factors in urban areas such as peer pressure, lavish lifestyles and more importantly, lack of parental guidance and monitoring in nuclear families seem to have contributed to the rising numbers.
Anant Asthana, advocate from the Juvenile Justice Board, Kingsway Camp (Delhi) says that “social maladjustment and family disintegration is on the rise which brings children (boys and girls) into a state of abandonment and disorientation and they make their way out by indulging in criminal activities.”
While 1978 girls were apprehended under juvenile delinquency in 2011, just 1540 girls were apprehended under juvenile delinquency in 2010. The statistics ministry has culled the data from National Crime Records Bureau.
Gender-related vulnerability and absence of social-welfare programmes particularly for the 16-18 age groups further pushes them into crimes.
“Minor girls are forced into juvenile crimes due to their vulnerability. Many girls are left helpless on the streets to get harassed and unfortunately least measures are taken to protect them from all odds. In our country there are schemes that provide cash to a girl at the completion of 18 years but what about protecting her at the tender age? When you are forced to face the harsh realities of life with an empty stomach, divergence towards criminal activities becomes oblivious,” Suhas Chakma from the Delhi-based Asian Centre for Human Rights says.
The report further suggests that out of total apprehended girls under juvenile delinquency, highest apprehension was recorded within 16-18 years of age group at 1149 during 2011.
Reasoning sexual vulnerability of young girls, Asthana adds, “Children are innocent, so it very easy to mould them as criminals. In my career I have seen many cases where young girls are involved in organized crimes. Criminal gangs involve young girls in their modus operandi to get sexual favours.”
Surprisingly, the involvement of juvenile girls was recorded highest under cruelty by husband and relatives (Sec 498A IPC) and gambling act during 2011. Among states, Madhya Pradesh (406) and Maharashtra (353) have reported highest girl offenders in juvenile crime under the Indian Penal Code, while Chhattisgarh (178) and Gujarat (121) reported highest under Special Local Laws.