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The Mazurier case is tragic. Police handling may have made it worse
It is an attention-grabbing case that has horrified people in Bangalore, Paris and everywhere. Last month, Suja Jones Mazurier, the wife of a Bangalore-based French consular official, accused her husband of sexually abusing and raping their daughter, two months short of her fourth birthday.
In this country, a mere fraction of child sexual abuse incidents are reported to the police. This one belongs to that even rarer category where the accused is the father and the accuser is the mother. The high-profile case has come up at a time when India is in the final stages of passing its first ever law, to protect children from sexual predators, the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Bill, 2012. Currently, India has no law to protect those under 18 from paedophiles in the home or outside. Even the few child abuse cases that are reported are tried in adult courts with the application of adult laws, says Pinki Virani, author of a book on child sexual abuse in India.
The outcome of this case could be that even those Indians summoning the courage to walk into a police station with a complaint would now baulk at the idea, seeing how the Mazurier case is unfolding.
The case is particularly complicated legally. The father is a Frenchman, the mother an Indian passport holder, and their three children, including the victim, are all French nationals. The police took their time arresting Pascal Mazurier, saying they had to first ascertain that the official did not have diplomatic immunity. They finally charged him with rape under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code, and he has been sent to judicial custody. Mazurier has denied the charges.
Suja Jones Mazurier, an educated mother of three, said she was so distraught by what she termed was callous, harsh treatment at the hands of the police that she immediately petitioned Bangalore's police chief to change the investigating officer (IO) on the case. In her complaint, Jones Mazurier listed police officials' insensitivities.
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