Ti­har Diary

India Today - - COVER STORY / CHILD RAPISTS - Graphic by TANMOY CHAKRABORT­Y

Over the past 35 years, Dr Ra­jat Mi­tra has stud­ied over 2,000 child rapists and sex of­fend­ers. A clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist, he has in­ter­acted closely and con­sis­tently with prison in­mates at the Ti­har Jail in Delhi since the 1990s to un­der­stand their mind­sets and mo­ti­va­tion. A leaf from his field notes:

Manju Mehta, clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist and for­mer head of child and ado­les­cent psy­chol­ogy at the All In­dia In­sti­tute of Med­i­cal Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi. The clas­sic pro­file of child rapists are men who were ex­posed to vi­o­lence grow­ing up, brought up with anger, neg­a­tiv­ity, beat­ings and re­jec­tions. For them, sex­ual grat­i­fi­ca­tion is not the core is­sue, it’s hos­til­ity, anger and con­trol. They look for a sex ob­ject which is de­fence­less, so they can do what they want in terms of vi­o­lence and dom­i­na­tion. The vic­tim ceases to be a “per­son” and be­comes an ‘ob­ject’ and noth­ing more. The of­fend­ers of­ten knock a child un­con­scious, or kill, be­fore hav­ing sex with them. Re­search sug­gests that vi­o­lence, more than sex­ual grat­i­fi­ca­tion, is what drives a child rapist’s be­hav­iour. Many are vic­tims of child­hood sex­ual abuse. The more men are abused as chil­dren, the more likely they are to rape as adults; al­though not every­one who has been abused as a child be­comes a po­ten­tial rapist.

Of the var­i­ous types of child rapists, the “op­por­tunist” type—for whom rapes are part of a larger pat­tern of im­pul­sive crimes—gets away with it the most. They also dis­play no anger, don’t use un­nec­es­sary force, ex­cept in re­sponse to the vic­tim’s re­sis­tance. There are also those pre­oc­cu­pied with sex­ual fan­tasies, which they try to act out in the rape. Far more vi­o­lent are those clas­si­fied as the ‘vin­dic­tive’ type—men who are phys­i­cally harm­ful to their vic­tims as well as those driven by anger at the world. These in­di­vid­u­als usu­ally have a long his­tory of vi­o­lent crimes and in­flict the most phys­i­cal dam­age on their vic­tims.

Mehta re­calls Surinder Koli of the Nithari case, now serv­ing life-term for mur­der­ing 18 chil­dren, as a sadist, who lacked so­cial skills to de­velop re­la­tion­ships with adults and had per­sis­tent pre­oc­cu­pa­tions about sex with chil­dren. For sadists, the vic­tim’s fear is the sex­ual stim­u­lus.

In her 2011 study of child rape con­victs (Sex­ual Abuse of Chil­dren: A So­ci­o­log­i­cal Study in Delhi Me­trop­o­lis), crim­i­nol­o­gist Hunny Matiyani in­ter­viewed 100 con­victs, 38 per cent of whom claimed to have planned the crime be­fore­hand. Out of them, most— 53 per cent—said that they did it to sat­isfy sex­ual de­sires, 40 per cent said their mo­tive was re­venge, about 5 per cent said it was money and the rest (3 per cent) at­trib­uted their crimes to a ‘fas­ci­na­tion’ with the vic­tim’s beauty. But 62 per cent of the con­victs said they had not planned the act. Out of them, 27 per cent ap­par­ently claimed an un­con­trol­lable sex­ual urge when they found the vic­tim alone, 21 per cent claimed the vic­tim se­duced them, 15 per cent cited neigh­bour­hood en­mity, 13 per cent said the rape hap­pened be­cause the vic­tim was liv­ing with them and 6 per cent said it was be­cause they were drunk. Why choose a child? About 34 per cent said the vic­tim was a soft tar­get be­cause of her age and avail­abil­ity, and 15 per cent said it was be­cause a child could be dealt with eas­ily (threat and co­er­cion).

Cases of child rape and as­sault are usu­ally bru­tal, says Mi­tra: “They are also the most dif­fi­cult to solve. There are usu­ally no wit­nesses and the vic­tim of­ten succumbs to in­juries. Un­like homi­cide, the crime scene is the child’s body, from which the crime and the crim­i­nal will have to be in­ves­ti­gated. We don’t have that level of foren­sic pro­fes­sional ex­cel­lence in this coun­try.” To Vaya, child rape and as­sault be­comes in­her­ently bru­tal be­cause of the very dif­fer­ent mind­set of the per­pe­tra­tors. “When they start do­ing it, they don’t think it’s bru­tal,” she says, “but when the vic­tim is not in a po­si­tion to ac­cept the way she is be­ing han­dled, and puts up re­sis­tance in

*The rest of the per­cent­age is in­de­ter­mi­nate; cur­rent study con­ducted un­der the aegis of Swanchetan So­ci­ety for Men­tal Health with the sup­port of Ajay Ag­gar­wal, for­mer DG Pris­ons and Su­nil Gupta, for­mer Law Of­fi­cer, Ti­har

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