Abuse. An ugly word and an even uglier act. Goa is full of these stories and situations. They were well hidden in the past. But now, with the Internet age, people are more informed and aware of the atrocities happening everywhere. It’s no secret that child abuse is shockingly common in our state. It is believed that every week, more than 5 children are abused. A report submitted to the Chief Minister, Manohar Parrikar by the Victim Assistance Unit (VAU) showed a shocking trend of child abuse in Goa. Recently there was an incident in Vasco where 8 young girls were found in an apartment in the Baina area of Vasco da Gama. And today’s TOI brings news of a family from Porvorim having been sentenced to 3 years in prison for torturing their maid who is a minor in the eyes of the law.
3 family members responsible for the alleged abuse of the minor
According to the news article in TOI, 3 members of the family had kept a 12-year-old girl as a housemaid and also hurt her. The accused Audumbar Pednekar, his wife Meenaxi Pednekar, and Rekha Vaghela had allegedly harassed the minor. On Monday, the Goa children’s court sentenced them to 3 years in prison for the alleged abuse.
President of the court, Vandana Tendulkar stated that the medical evidence recorded, showed that the minor had received a number of injuries during her time in the house. This information along with her testimony was sufficient to reveal that the family had indeed treated her badly.
She also said that there was sufficient evidence to show that the family had taken advantage of the minor’s poor economic status, her family’s illiteracy and her age.
The accused’s lawyer, R Desai said that this was a first-time offense for Rekha and Audumbar and asked the court for leniency. Advocate D Dhond argued on behalf of Meenaxi. However, public prosecutor K Sanzgiri did not seem to feel the same and sought maximum punishment for the family based on the evidence of abuse of the minor.
The court’s decision
The court does not take cases of abuse, alleged or otherwise, lightly. It held that the ‘serious offence’ could not be dealt with lightly “since it is an offence of ‘child abuse’ under the Goa Children’s Act 2003 specially enacted with the object to protect, promote and preserve the best interest of the children and to create a society that is proud to be child-friendly.’’
The children’s court discovered that that minor had been psychologically and even physically abused between April and July 2009. There was evidence of her being branded with a hot spoon among other objects. 13 witnesses were called for examination.
Information credit – TOI