Sunday, 29 June 2008

Home alone and a soft target

17 May 2008, 0218 hrs IST,TNN

NEW DELHI: Soaring ambition has within its grip a young victim — the lonely child. Double income nuclear families, for all their progressive, self-assertive ways, are grappling with the predicament of leaving children at home, with sometimes, only a maid for supervision and company. With a steady erosion of the Great Indian Joint Family, children are now, more than ever, vulnerable to both physical and mental abuse.

An enraged Vikalp Verma, deputy manager with a city hospital, recounts how a maid from a placement agency had subjected his nine-month-old baby girl to physical torture. Both he and his wife Jolly (who works for an NGO) found it odd that their once cheerful child was clinging on to her mother at night and sleeping fitfully, wailing as they left for work and crawling towards them as fast as she possibly could, when they returned. They decided to install a web cam and soon discovered, that the maid, who was extremely polite in their presence, was hitting the child. "The 45-minute tape shook me up; she spanked my baby for crying out for a diaper change," says Vikalp, advising young parents to never depend on a maid totally.

Cruel domestic help is only part of the trouble. A child growing up outside the safety net of large families with grandparents and cousins, is subjected to unhealthy influences all the time. Like Lavanya Anirudh Verma, client services director at an ad agency discovered, when she and her husband were called to her seven-year-old daughter's school, because the child had used foul language in class. "I couldn't believe it," says Lavanya, "We never use foul language at home, so where was she picking it up from?" She later discovered that a group of older kids were using obscenities in the playground and decided to have a chat with her daughter instead of scolding her. "I told her that that it is a bad word, and some people do use it, but we don't." Both Lavanya and her husband believe that since kids nowadays are bombarded with spicy images on TV, and via the Internet, it's best to talk to them about the birds and bees, "good touch and bad touch" early. How early depends on when they start questioning, like their daughter did, when she saw an on-screen kiss. "I explained to her that only mummy and daddy can kiss you, everyone else has germs!" says Lavanya, voicing concern over how kids are also vulnerable to slobbery uncles within the family. A child, even at 3, should be able to say I don't like it when an uncle or older cousin touches him/her in a strange way.

Most working parents are hounded by the fear of child sexual abuse. Aruna Broota, a clinical psychologist and professor at Delhi University, recounts how one of her clients, a busy schoolteacher, left her six-year-old boy with the domestic staff — servant, driver, chowkidaar. "After the child's constant pleading, ‘Mummy, don't leave me', failed, he decided to take drastic measures and lock himself up in the bathroom. This compelled the family to investigate and they discovered, to their horror, that the child had been abused, time and again, by the male domestic staff."

"We need to be vigilant," warns professor Broota, citing web cams and closed-circuit TVs as a good way of monitoring what goes on in the house. However, she laments the passing of a time not too long ago, when there was enough people at home to ensure the safety of a child. "Neighbours too, were once friendly and reliable, but today, we don't even know who lives next door. And even if we do, we dont want them to interfere in our lives." She wonders where a child's park friends have disappeared, and believes that if children grow up with only Bahadur for company, they will become like Bahadur, with his mannerisms and crude language.

Working parents of teenage children have their own demons. Like Amal Sethi and wife Kishori, who head an ad agency, are constantly worried about their 16-year-old daughter. "As a parent, how does one keep control, without seeming like one is keeping control," he asks, emphasizing the teenage revulsion to interference of any sort. "How do I know that when she's off to the mall with a group of girls, she is actually with a group of girls!" he says. And while he believes he shares a strong bond with his daughter, he worries about her succumbing to peer pressure. "She talks about other girls in class who have boyfriends, and while I'm certain that she doesn't have one, how much can I continue to influence her decisions?" Grappling with the need to be open-minded while at the same time keeping a check on her, he regrets not spending enough time with his daughter.

Dr Amit Sen, psychiatrist, believes that working parents needn't be riddled with guilt, but should definitely be aware of the dangers of leaving a child alone at home. And while rape and murder are the most extreme forms of abuse kids are vulnerable to, neglect, criticism, and sexual overtures by "friendly" uncles are an equally real threat. He cautions working parents against sudden changes in a child's behavoiur, unexplained aggression or sudden sibling rivalry. For, a childish tantrum could very well be a cry for help.

[ Source: Click here ]

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Rapist pleads shorter jail term for using condom

Published on Sat, Jun 21, 2008 at 13:26 in World section

Kuala Lumpur: A Malaysian of Indian origin, who was sentenced to 36 years in jail four years ago for repeatedly raping his minor daughter, wants his jail term reduced because he used a condom while committing the crime.

The rapist's lawyer SI Rajah told a court of appeals here that the sentence imposed by the lower court was excessive and the father was remorseful. "Justice should be tempered with mercy," the lawyer said.

Rajah told the court the sentence should be reduced since "the accused used a condom every time he committed the offence", the New Straits Times reported Saturday.

The three-member bench of the appellate court refused to overturn the lower court's judgement since it held that a strong message should be sent that such an act must not be condoned.

"You mean it is okay to rape using a condom?" a judge asked in anger.

Four years ago, the sessions court in Petaling Jaya sentenced the accused to a total of 36 years in jail on four counts of rape. The rapist, now 49, appealed against the sentence because he was a first-time offender.

The man raped his 11-year-old daughter between May 2003 and August 2004 when the child's mother used to be away at work.

Deputy public prosecutor Aslina Joned told the court that the accused, a father of five, had betrayed the trust of his daughter.

Aslina said the father would give the victim five ringgit ($1.5) as a reward every time he raped her. A class teacher noticed the girl was in a state of depression and questioned her.

The man was arrested Aug 12, 2004, after his daughter told her teacher about his crime. He pleaded guilty to the charges in the sessions court a week later.

On the first three counts, then Sessions Court judge Nurmala Salim sentenced him to 18 years in jail. The sentences were to run concurrently. He was sentenced to a further 18 years of imprisonment for the fourth count.

[Source: Click here]

Friday, 20 June 2008

30 Days in September - Play on CSA by Lillete Dubey, in Mumbai

Hi all,

Am pleased to share that Inner Courtyard is hosting a play by Lillete Dubey, '30 Days in September' to support Arpan's initiative of Spreading Awareness on Child Sexual Abuse. I would be very happy if you come to watch this play, an intense and gripping tale of love and betrayal that explores the brutal severance of the unbreakable bond between adult and child. A mother discovers the truth about her daughter, which sets them both on a journey of self discovery about their lives and their inextricably linked past.

Date: Friday, 20th June, 2008
Time: 7 pm - 8:30 pm
Venue: Y. B. Chavan Pratishthan Hall, opp. Sachivalaya, General Bhosle Marg, Mumbai 21

Adults only.

Please contact me or Anita on 9819051444 for free passes.

To read a review on the play please click below.
Brilliant performance and a heart moving tale. I hope to see you there!

best regards,
Pooja Taparia

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Woman charged with repeated sexual abuse of relative

Friday, June 13, 2008
BY Robert Wang

A Lake Township woman is accused of forcing an underage female relative in her care to repeatedly engage in sexual activity with her and her boyfriend.

Virginia Johnson, 38, of 12305 King Church Ave. NW, was arrested at her home around noon Wednesday, said Sgt. Dave Brown of the Summit County sheriff's investigations division.

Johnson faces felony charges of rape, permitting child abuse, sexual battery, disseminating material involving a minor and unlawful restraint, a sheriff's statement said. She's being held at the Summit County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bond. Johnson is set to appear in Barberton Municipal Court on Wednesday.

Johnson's boyfriend, Stephan C. Brothers, 40, of Raber Terrace in Green, killed himself April 28, Brown said.

The suicide occurred six days after deputies raided Brothers' and Johnson's homes, seizing nine computers, hard drives, USB thumb drives, DVDs and three cameras. The sergeant said that investigators came across child pornographic images in the case, but he declined to elaborate.

Brown said the sexual crimes started in 2005 and occurred until this year at Brothers' and Johnson's homes. The investigation was launched April 18, when the girl visited a sheriff's station in Green to report what had happened. She gave deputies a USB thumb drive with images of her that showed her partially nude.

With the evidence, deputies got search warrants from the Summit County and Stark County Common Pleas courts and raided Brothers' and Johnson's homes April 22.

On April 28, a family member told deputies that Brothers had stopped answering his calls, Brown said. A deputy found Brothers dead in his garage, after he had pumped deadly carbon monoxide into his vehicle. According to his obituary, he was a 1986 McKinley High School graduate, a Navy veteran and a plumber. His death notice said he enjoyed roller skating with his son.

It took about six weeks for the Summit County Computer Crimes Unit to find enough evidence on the computers to obtain an arrest warrant for Johnson. Brown said someone had tried to delete data, but the unit was able to recover much of it.

When deputies swooped in to arrest Johnson in Lake Township, she put up no resistance, Brown said. Her mother was with her.

Johnson's attorney, Joe Gorman, could not be reached for comment.

Brown said investigators now are trying to determine if there are other victims.

The deputy said Johnson actively dated people through the Web site, and that investigators have spoken with people she met online. He said they have not found sufficient evidence that Johnson and Brothers were part of any interstate distribution of child pornography.

Brown declined to say whether pictures of the victim were posted online.

"She's looking at a long time," Brown said about Johnson. "This is one of the worst cases."

Reach Repository writer Robert Wang at (330) 580-8327 or e-mail:

[Source: Click here ]