In 2012, the gang rape and murder of a 23-year old woman in New Dehli, India called attention to the ongoing national issue of sexually related crimes. The outrage it caused among human rights activists, especially those advocating for women’s rights, perpetuated another topic of concern. The National Crimes Record Bureau estimates that rapes of a minor make up 40% of all sexual assault cases in India amounting to 19,765 reported cases a year. Furthermore, a survey with 17,000 participants conducted by the Ministry of Women and Child Development found that more than half of the children had been sexually assaulted in one way or another. But why is this such a prevalent issue?
Factors contributing to the crisis stem from the social stigma and patriarchal views widespread throughout the country. It takes cases like the one in Kashmir involving the rape and murder of and 8-year-old girl who was kidnapped and violated for days on end to put pressure on the Indian government. Previously, no laws pertaining to any form of sexual abuse towards anyone under the age of 18 existed and though change comes slow, new legislation has been proposed to inflict the death penalty on anyone convicted of raping a child. Activist continue to fight for justice in the name of the child victims and hope to shield others from further loss of innocence.