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“When will the world become a safer place for children?” asks Deepti Menon, writing about the boy in Kerala who was beaten to death by his mother’s live-in partner.
On March 28th, a seven-year- old boy was brutally beaten up by his mother’s live-in partner in Thodupuzha, in Kerala, according to this news report. He was hit on his head, arms and eyes, and taken to hospital with a severe skull injury. The man had a history of maltreating the boy and his four-year-old brother, the gory details coming from the younger boy, who had also been sexually abused by the man.
The child was kept on life support at the Kolenchery Medical College for nine days, but finally succumbed to the grievous injuries he had suffered. The whole of Kerala had prayed for his survival, but his blood pressure levels fluctuated and his heart finally gave up.
So many heartbreaking details are being thrown around. It allegedly started when the 36-year-old man started kicking and beating the four-year-old boy for bed wetting. When the older boy tried to stop him, the man bodily hurled him to the ground and smashed his head against a cupboard. He used a walking stick to hurt him further. When the boy reached the hospital, he had a fractured skull, internal bleeding and lung injury, apart from various bruises on his body.
The father of the boys had passed away ten months ago, and after that, this man had been staying in the house with their mother.
My heart aches when I think of the two little boys, left at the mercy of a sadist and a child molester. One can only imagine what the mother was going through when her children were being hurt. There is no way she could condone what was happening at home, a hell hole where a strange man had walked in and made himself at home. Media reports say that he was her late husband’s cousin, which may be why she allowed him into her life at all.
What difference does that make anyway? Isn’t it a mother’s duty to keep her children safe against all odds? What was it that kept her from speaking out? Was she ignorant of the abuse? Or was she mortally scared of the man who had taken over their lives? Did she depend on him because he had supported her after her husband passed away? Her statement at the hospital was that the boy had fallen from the sofa, which was far from the truth.
After a delay of almost one and a half hours, the boy was taken to the hospital, as the man tried delaying tactics, refusing to get into the ambulance with the injured boy. The police had to force him to finally get in. Once at the hospital, the mother’s and the man’s stories did not tally, another reason for the authorities to smell a rat.
Once the man was arrested, he was charged under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act for having molested the younger boy apart from the attempt to murder. Now that his victim has died, he has been charged with murder under Section 302 of the IPC.
The High Court initiated a letter stating how, in certain cases ‘devils’ also have their way in ‘God’s Own Country’. It went on to add, “When that happens, the High Court has a definite role to play, as the vanguard of the liberties of our citizens, particularly our precious children…”.
It is fervently to be hoped that the man will be imprisoned, and the key thrown away forever. Such men need to be kept well away from children and banished from society as well. A file must be opened which declares them as sexual offenders and murderers, which should determine how they live out the rest of their lives. No more should they be allowed to roam free, predators looking for easy prey.
Will the mother ever be able to forgive herself for the heinous crime that has been committed only because she might have turned a blind eye to the harassment when it first started? Isn’t that where it all starts… the first sly attack that insidiously turns into a multi-pronged one, when the perpetrator finds himself on safe ground, only because his victims are either too young, too weak or, in the case of the mother, too cowardly to stop him?
If I were to pray at this moment, I would ask for a world where mercy and kindness reign supreme, where children can grow up, safe and happy, in a world without shadows; a world where laws are so stringent that they actually act as deterrents, where men are strong, but gentle and women are gentle, but strong. May evil doers be punished so severely that they tremble when they think of their misdeeds, may the law makers not turn into law breakers, and may all citizens – men, women and children – live with the confidence that they are protected from evil. Maybe, it is a Utopian world of which I see visions, but shouldn’t we at least strive towards it?
For as Nelson Mandela put it so eloquently, “We can change the world and make it a better place. It is in your hands to make a difference.”
Image source: a still from the movie Slumdog Millionaire
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