CHENNAI: Raymond Varley, Bartle Frare, Paul Meekin, and Duncan Grant — the names are thrown out in startling numbers, seemingly good Samaritan foreigners who arrived in India only to abuse unsuspecting children.
In the year 2011-2012 alone, there were 66 recorded cases of Britons arrested abroad for child sexual abuse, says Christine Beddoe, speaking at the 7th Annual Lecture of Tulir — Centre for Prevention and Healing of Child Sexual Abuse.
Beddoe, who has been working for the past 20 years to eradicate child sexual abuse, is the former director of ECPAT, UK, an organisation working for eradication of child trafficking globally.
Children from vulnerable communities are usually the victims without a voice. Varley who abused children at a Goa orphanage was refused extradition. Frare was arrested for taking children from Nochikuppam to his hotel and abusing them. Meekin was heading an international school in Bangalore before the allegations of abuse. Like many cases, these are crimes that occurred in the shelters that schools and orphanages provided to protect children.
“Travelling sex offenders are no longer only associated with tourism, these people come in the guise of good samaritans, cloaked in righteousness,” says Vidya Reddy of Tulir.
With a strategy of ingratiating themselves into the local community, in a way that nobody would take a child’s word against theirs, they manage to continue committing such crimes, says Beddoe.
“Everyone thinks the white face is fine. Also, cases of boys being abused often passes the scanner, many communities themselves don’t take it very seriously as they say ‘boys can’t get pregnant’,” says Beddoe.
The complications of dealing with cases where the perpetrator is in one country and the victim in another, makes the arresting process complicated, leading to several people walking free. “Even if the police do their best, the case often falls apart because of the international legal system. Some of the red tape should be shed,” says Beddoe.
“We need to tackle this issue and not sweep it under the carpet anymore,” says former CBI director, R K Raghavan, adding that he hopes to play a more proactive role in facilitating interactions between NGOs like Tulir and the CBI to deal with these cases sensitively.