Four-year-old Delhi schoolboy 'rapes' classmate: Mother 'aghast' at injuries, experts say wrong to criminalise child

A four-year-old boy was booked by the Delhi Police on Thursday for "sexually assaulting" his classmate in the washroom and classroom of a well-known private school in the city. The Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) has issued a summon to the school authorities in the case, CNN-News 18 reported.

The girl, who is of the same age, allegedly came home complaining of pain in her private parts. The child narrated the incident to her mother on Friday. She told her mother that the boy used his finger and a sharpened pencil to assault her sexually. She was taken to a hospital where doctors confirmed sexual assault, police said.

The mother of the girl accused the school of negligence and said the authorities did not take her seriously when she sent the girl's teach a text message on the same night. Instead, she was asked to come to school to register a complaint on Monday. Following this, the girl's parents lodged an FIR against the boy at the local police station.

 Four-year-old Delhi schoolboy rapes classmate: Mother aghast at injuries, experts say wrong to criminalise child

Representational image. AFP

Police action

The police were somewhat in a fix over how to proceed with the case because of the age of the accused.

"The Indian Penal Code (IPC) provides children below seven years of age certain protections against prosecutions. We are examining those provisions even as we are handling the matter with utmost sensitivity," the police said.

However, a case has still been registered under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act  "since an offence was made out and there was a victim” in the case, Deependra Pathak, Delhi Police's chief spokesperson told NDTV

The police has also booked the school administrations over charges of alleged negligence, PTI reported, however, NDTV report said that no charges have been pressed against the school authorities so far.

The police say that they will examine the CCTV footage of the classroom and the washroom to find out if there was any staff in the classroom or washroom when the crime happened.

"The child has recorded her statement with the Child Welfare Commission and the magistrate which is being examined... However, apart from the allegations, we are also probing the role of others with whom the child interacted. We are also looking into the allegations against the school," the police told The Times of India

The victim's mother's account

Gory details surfaced as media reported how the crime was committed.

"She came home writhing in pain... and somehow bore it, informing me casually that her tummy is hurting. As a child of four years (and) eight months.... she could not figure out if it was her private part that was hurting or her tummy... At night, just before going off to sleep, she started crying profusely. She narrated an incident that left me aghast," a NDTV  report quoted the mother as saying.

The mother in her complaint also said that her daughter tried to push away the boy but could not get away as children had already left the classroom and there were no staff members around.

"When I opened her bloomers and saw the injury, I was shocked," the mother told NDTV. 

She further added that there was no ayah or teacher in the washroom or classroom at the time of the alleged assault.

The school's story

From denying responsibility to blatantly denying the incident, the school's response has changed since the news broke. While, NDTV reported that the school has said that it was 'impossible' that 4-year-old girl was sexually assaulted by another classmate of the same age, their lawyer had earlier denied charges of negligence.

"We have no clarity if it took place or not. We feel it is impossible that this incident can take place."

Speaking to Hindustan Times, the school's lawyer had earlier refuted the claims of the mother and said that they had an ayah present in every washroom in the school.

The school had apparently told the mother of the assaulted child that the accused boy's section has been changed so it should now be safe for the child to come back to the school. The girl's mother, however, has demanded that the accused boy should be expelled from the school.

What the experts say

Behaviour science experts believe that it would be unwise to criminalise the child as pre-puberscent children, especially that young, do not understand sexual behaviour.

"Is there a possibility of a sexual need being fulfilled in his case? Absolutely not," Samir Parikh, director, department of mental health and behavioural sciences, Fortis Healthcare told Hindustan Times

“It may be at best described as imitation or copy-cat behaviour – the child saw something similar happening became inquisitive and replicated the action without realising the repercussions... or he himself may have been assaulted and could have been repeating the act," the report further added.

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Updated Date: Nov 23, 2017 19:07:20 IST