A seventh standard girl of 11 years in Biswanath district of Assam was killed and her body was found hung on a tree. News reports mention this as an incident of last Friday. Police say the culprits were seven students who had written the final higher secondary examination. During an excursion, all the seven gathered, raped and killed the girl, thereafter hanging her body on a tree about two kilometers from her home. The news item also says that the girl's father has appealed to the prime minister and chief minister of Assam to ensure that the culprits are handed the maximum punishment. Even if they are charged with crimes under POCSO (Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences) Act and punished, when the accused are below the age of 18, it is certain that they are not going to be sentenced to so harsh punishments.
In the notorious Nirbhaya case, the main accused is not one among those who are waiting to be hanged to death because he was proven to be under the age of 18. Punishments for torture of women have been made stiffer including death sentence, but in spite of that incidents of coldblooded sexual abuse and killing are not decreasing but increasing beyond proportion. The enlightened state of Kerala is no exception to this. The more disturbing phenomenon of this is that the percentage of adolescents and youth involved in such crimes, is growing to an unpredecented extent. As per statistics of 2019, out of 7,413 prisoners in Kerala, 2,426 are of the 18-30 age group. The number of young prisoners during the previous year was only 1,730. They have been sentenced for crimes like theft, attempt to murder and rape. And studies show that the average age of delinquent adolescents is between 16 and 18, and those in this category have mostly been sentenced for sexual offences. Only five per cent of this were girls. Studies and analyses also tell us that when girls surge ahead in educational and social domains, young males generally lag behind.
The vexing question is why, despite the amazing advances in science and technology providing a very favouable situation, youth – who should be playing a productive role in nation-building and socio-political spheres - are being dragged into criminalism and underworld at a very young age. When on the one hand, institutions from primary schools to universities become smart, and novel experimentations are happening in education sector, our younger generation is thrown into an abyss morally and ethically. This is a concern and grief shared by senior educationists, and everyone concerned about the future of the country. Their lamentations however become a cry in the wilderness. There are those who blame, and justifiably so, the laxity and derelection of duty of the central and state governments. Others mark law enforcing agencies and the polic as the main villain. Add to these the pertinent observation that the unending delay in legal processes of trial and judgements on cases that come before the judiciary, also causes a burgeoning of crimes. Another culprit is the loopholes of law and absence of timely reforms in laws. Above all, there is the undeniable fact that mafias that are vowed to wreck the future of the coming generation, operate unhindered without the society having adequate defensive measures against them.
The rackets trading in alcolohol and drugs rule the roost and trap even young children, tightening their grip by each passing day. Their path is rendered smooth by the slackness and deliberate negligence of governments and law enforcing machinery, with their eyes set only on money. And those who exploit school children by making them the conduits of black money and hawala, do not for a moment remember that they are callously playing with the future of such children. Nor are parents sufficiently conscious about them. And a 'progressive' section who blame well-meaning teachers under the justification of psychological approach, do knowingly or unknowingly become party to increasing the number of delinquents. There is no need to mention the unhealthy role of social media in all this; and social media has now become a byword for licence for any one to state and show anything in any language or style. On the other hand, and paradoxically, the very same social media are in the forefront in screaming with rage, out of pity for the victimised female body. In short, there is no easy way out of this vicious cycle in which almost all constituents of the society have a role. It is not adequate to make laws and rules stringent to their extreme. Only an ideological and thought revolution that puts humanity and morality on top of its agenda, can save generations from the deep hole of destruction.