As a seven-year-old, Raju (name changed) would usually be out playing with his friends in the evening. But he now sticks by his parents' side, whenever he steps out of his house.
On February 6, when he went out to play, he was sexually assaulted near his house in south Delhi, allegedly by a man who worked at a restaurant right opposite his house. The accused allegedly took Raju away from his friends to a jungle nearby, and assaulted him.
A medical exam conducted at the mortuary of the Delhi's premier All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), confirmed rape. The child faced the additional trauma of being examined in the mortuary.
But instead of being assured that the accused would be arrested as he had been identified, the boy's family is now living in fear. The accused is yet to be arrested.
"Police tell us they are trying, they have sent teams outside, but we can't see any results. We are scared as well, what if he comes back to harm us?" said Raju's father, who works as a tailor, earning barely Rs 5,000 a month to support his family of four.
The Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences or POCSO Act was brought into place in 2012 to address the issue of cases of sexual crimes against children. But over the years, the progress of cases has been discouraging.
"In most cases of male child being abused, nobody knows how to handle the case. Not the police, not the medical staff, not the courts," admits Bharti Ali, member of Haq: Centre for Childrens' Rights, an NGO working on child abuse cases. "For some cases that have come to us, police takes eight months to file a chargesheet, and then another eight to record statement," she added.
In Raju's case, police say they have sent teams to Rajasthan to look for the accused. But for his family, the wait for justice has turned into a nightmare.
"The cops would say if I give a cut to the lawyer, a good lawyer can get me compensation, that's not what I want. My son now hardly talks or goes out on his own. I have a younger son, my wife has to constantly be with him now and guard him," he says.
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