ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Dealing with Child Sexual Abuse

The acquittal in Mumbai of two Englishmen accused of child sexual abuse raises a number of socio-legal questions.

The Freddy Peats case in Goa in 1991 first brought the term “paedophilia” into public discourse in this country. Since then, there has been acknowledgement, reluctantly though, that child sexual abuse (CSA) exists in our societ y whet her wit hin or outside the confines of the family, and steps have been taken to punish the offenders. But now the Mumbai High Court has acquitted two Englishmen accused of sexually abusing boys in the shelter that they ran in the city. Their acquittal raises a number of questions about the legal and social complexities involved in dealing with child sexual abuse in general and paedophilia cases involving foreigners, in particular.

In 2006 the two men (Duncan Grant set up the shelter, Anchorage, in 1995 and Alan Waters was a frequent visitor) were sentenced to six years rigorous imprisonment by an additional sessions judge on charges of sexual abuse based on the evidence of five boys. The high court while acquitting them noted that there were discrepancies between the statements made by two complainants before the police and in the court, that it was “unnatural” that the victims did not complain for several years, that the investigation had been done by the amicus curiae rather than by the police and that the prosecution had not been able to prove the guilt of the accused beyond a shadow of doubt.

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