The baffling judgement pronounced by a local court yesterday reinforced once again the vulnerability of children in India. A little girl allegedly raped by her own father was sent back to live with him as the man was acquitted because the key witnesses (her mother and sister) turned hostile.

At the time of the rape she was 4, today she is 7. I cannot begin to think what goes on in her tiny mind and am at a loss to picture the consequences that this will have on her tomorrows. This tender soul has been raped not only by her father but by all those she could trust, her mother, her sister and above all the entire system ostensibly created to protect her: society with all its trimmings: police, legal system and what not.

What is galling and frightening are the words pronounced by the judge: The acquittal in this case is painful as a blossoming child is alleged to have been ravished by her own father. But unfortunately her mother and sister turned hostile. But what is disturbing apart from the acquittal is the fact that the victim may have to live under the same roof and in the same hands of the accused.

Is justice blind to this point?

Even if one was to play Devil’s Advocate there is not much one could proffer. The mother was vulnerable in a society that is ruthless to one who dares go against her husband. The sister had no option but say what she was told to. The mother alone could not have brought up the children alone. The judge had to go by the book and so on.

And in all this the little child was forgotten and had no one to stand by her and protect her. My mind goes back to one of our students who had been raped by a neighbour when she was 4. The man was caught, did a stint in jail and came out an resumed his life. The girl grew up and became a teenager but her past followed her: she was branded a bad girl and no one talked or played with her as she had once had been raped, never mind if she was barely 4 at the time.

My heart goes out to this little child whose childhood has been ravished and who stands helpless and alone.

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