In recent weeks a spate of sickening sex attacks has seen children raped, abused, tortured and killed.
Some 54 children across the country are raped every day. This is more than two every hour.
Campaigners say traditional views on the role of women, the rise of social media, as well as class and religious conflict could all be contributing to the horrific wave of attacks.
The death of eight-year-old Asifa Bano on January 17 in particular sparked nationwide protests, while grim details of further child killings are published on a near-daily basis.
Asifa's death scratched open a long festering wound in India – the nation's horrific but largely ignored track record of child rape.
It has now been labelled a "national emergency" and the government has brought in the death penalty for those found guilty of such crimes.
And official figures show 100,000 such cases – which may be just the tip of the iceberg – are currently making their way through India's clunky court system.
In January, Asifa was found dumped in a forest in Kathua, Kashmir.
She had been abducted, drugged, repeatedly raped then beaten to death.
A member of a nomadic Muslim tribe, Asifa was allegedly held captive in a small Hindu temple, where she was subjected to a week-long ordeal at the hands of her captors.
Toxicology and forensic tests later showed she'd been drugged with clonazepam before being assaulted.
Cops say the DNA found on her body matches that of her accused attackers.
The incident – which took on a sectarian dimension when it emerged she was from the country's Muslim minority and her attackers majority Hindu – sparked outrage.
Protests were held in defence of her alleged attackers (who include two cops said to have destroyed evidence), as well as those calling for those accused of the crime to be prosecuted.
Effigies of the alleged attackers have been ripped apart, beaten and set on fire during the demonstrations involving hundreds of thousands of people across India's major cities.
Campaigners fear the issue is linked to India's caste system, as well as complications among a country with 22 different languages, numerous sub-nationalities and poor attitudes on women's rights.
Sonali Khan, the director of Breakthrough, a Indian gender issues organisation, told The Sun Online that child sex attacks were often the result of many social issues compounding to affect society's most vulnerable members.
She said: "If you are low caste and you are also living in the class that is not serviced with facilities, the vulnerability keeps stacking itself against you. All of this adds up."
Sonali also warned traditional attitudes and cops' methods of dealing with child sex attacks desperately needed changing.
She added: "There has been a long-drawn issue of cleaning the police, teaching them how to handle cases.
"We have a long way to go – how a child is abused, and how the child enters the system, and how the child is safeguarded to ensure that there's no further harm to that child.
"I think a lot more needs to be done. It needs attention at all levels, not just law enforcement – at all levels of education."
Dr Shruti Kapoor, the founder of India's women's rights group Sayfty, told The Sun Online: "The crimes are happening because of various factors, but the prime one being that there is no respect for women.
"It's our attitude to women who have always been thought of as not equal to men but subservient.
"Whenever there is gender equality and women are considered second-class citizens compared to men, violence is prevalent."
As well as issues overturning popular attitudes, there are huge problems within the country's slow-grinding judicial system.
A recent report by the Kailash Satyarthi Children's Foundation estimates that a rape case registered today in the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh would take 99 years to go through the courts.
A child raped in the western state of Gujarat would wait 53 years for justice.
Satyarthi said: "Do you think a 15-year-old abused today, will attend court hearing with her grandchildren when she turns 70?"
Government figures show 18,862 cases of child rape were registered in 2016, or more than 50 each day.
That amounted to nearly half of the total 40,000 cases of rape of children and adults reported that year, up from 25,000 in 2012.
The worsening child rape statistics could also be a symptom of the recent proliferation of social media throughout India.
Fears are growing that many of the recent attacks on children could be fuelled by their twisted rapists' ability to easily share their assault videos with pals.
Rape campaigner Sunitha Krishnan warns: “Sexual assault of children and babies is now being recorded and uploaded on porn websites or circulated on social media.
"There is a big gap between the rate with which this problem is expanding and our response to it.
"By the time we get our act together and do something, so many lives will be sacrificed."
Her advocacy group Prajwala states some 65,000 children as young as five are passed around sex trafficking networks throughout the country every year.
INDIA'S RAPE SHAME
- Girl, 11, found lying face down on a cricket pitch in the city of Surat having been assaulted with sticks
- Girl, 7, found dead in a building site after being abducted on her way home from a wedding
- Asifa Bano, 8, was beaten, gang raped and stranged and stoned to death inside a Hindu temple in Kashmir
- Boy, 11, found murdered with eyes and tongue cut out after fighting off paedo rapist who lured him from home using chocolates
- Dad hands his daughter, 35, to pals as a "gift" before they take turns to rape her during 18-hour ordeal
- Girl, 6, raped with wooden stick then killed after being abducted from her home during the night
- Woman has acid poured on her genitals after being gang raped by two men
- Girl, 6, fighting for her life after being raped and strangled when she popped out to buy biscuits
Source: Read Full Article