The problem of sexual assault of minors is all the more grievous because it is the reflection of greater and deeper issues prevailing in the family and the society – educational institutions, churches, government. For a very long time, the conspiracy of silence subsisted over the evil act of violence and violation on minors in the Naga society, letting it go unnoticed or the society pretended it never existed. The contributing reasons could have been stigma and discrimination, taboo and fear, ignorance and uninformed, humiliation and hostile environment.
Recently, the alleged rape of a 5-year old girl under Tsiesema village jurisdiction on July 9 evening were reported in the media following the condemnation note issued by the office of Yimkhiung Union Kohima. The union condemned the “outrageous and barbaric act” of sexual assault perpetrated by an unidentified individual upon the minor, who is a bonafide member of the union. Similar to other reported cases of sexual assault on minors, the union reported that the unidentified rapist lured the minor child away and committed the shameful and heinous crime upon the victim and abandoned the victim in a nearby ditch battered, devastated and in immense pain and at the mercy of her own fate. However, by sheer luck, the victim’s neighbours found her in a critical condition whereby along with her parents the matter was reported to the police and later on the minor was admitted at Naga Hospital Authority, Kohima.
Following the report of the incident, several organisations through press releases issued to the newspapers expressed strong resentment and made appeal to the law enforcing authorities to book the culprit under proper sections of law with most befitting punishment. This is the trend the Naga society has been following for many years now. Even today, when issues of sexual violence receive considerable attention worldwide, this part of the world has little or no experience about dealing with sexual violence. For the most part, the involvement of the Naga society in sexual violence is of inaction. The attempt to push for action against sexual violence as a public issue has failed to go beyond condemnation, press releases and protest rallies.
A note of urgency is unmistakably sounded as the incidents and cases of sexual assault on minors are becoming more visible. There is an increase in the report of children being sexually assaulted, and in most cases the predators are often known to the victim or their families. Regardless of the fact that dealing with issues of sexual violence involves enormous complexity, it would be wrong not to engage and debate, inform and undertake constructive initiatives. Irrespective of how and what determines the appropriate response, something has to be said and done. The voices of the Naga society perhaps need the courage to appeal for social justice which is multi-dimensional. This voice must not only stand against sexual violence but heal the violated. And hence, this voice must find a way to reach individuals, law enforcing authorities, administration, schools and colleges (both secular and spiritual) and churches with the conviction to act in response and confront the inaction.
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