Are these people sick or crazy? Maybe they are both!
Looking at a five year old girl as a sexual object, and to then brutally violate her, try and strangulate her, and then run away; all of these actions are not what society would ever imagine. That is why such actions are called ‘perverse’.
Shouldn’t ‘perverse’ people have a mental health assessment to find out where, why and how these thoughts intruded into their mind? Although pedophilia is not yet classed as a mental disorder, such horrific actions do call for society and government to understand what is happening and what, if anything, can be done to stop such barbaric acts.
I am talking of preventing recurrences from a mental health context.
The background of these brutal acts need to be explored. Was it planned or impulsive? Was it under the influence of alcohol or while sober? Were the two men under an impression or belief that doing such dastardly acts to a five year old girl would provide them sexual gratification or was it under another malevolent belief. What was it that led them to violate her not merely for lust but for physically hurting her? Could pushing things up the vagina of a little girl provide sadistic pleasure? Is that (sadism) what led to this incident or were their other factors? Does our society accept that we have such people in our midst? How do such people develop this kind of aberrant mindset?
More importantly, could society have done something which could have prevented this from happening? As our lives get taken up by the ‘rat race’, stress leads to irritation and anger. With no easy escape from the daily grind of modern life, and no safe outlet for these emotions, anger on the streets in increasing. Road rage is a new term for the city which has fights and arguments over driving, parking, speeding etc. almost daily. People lose lives because of road rage. Alcohol and sexual predatory acts are also increasing. The former because it is being made easily available by our governments and the latter because no punishment was being seen to be given to rapists and murderers.
But, if a safe outlet, as in counselling, good mental health workshops and non judgmental psychiatric assessments; would have been provided to the men when they were boys, it is quite possible that some risk factors could have been addressed. Parents, friends, and relatives could have voiced their concerns to health professionals who could then have referred them to us (mental health professionals). Support, reassurance , guidance and mentoring have been successfully used in western societies to reduce delinquency and defiance in youngsters. As Indian society/family breaks up (‘nuclearisation’) and is impacted adversely by migration to urban areas for jobs, we need to use the skills and expertise of Psychiatrists, therapists and counselors to help youngsters feeling lost. Providing them a bridge for their transition to autonomy beyond social and family boundaries can be done by mental health experts.
Prevention is what we need to focus on, if we have learnt anything from the two incidents – December and April. Does our society and government have the will and vision to take up this challenge rather than use punishment as the only tool? I hope so and I believe we will do so!
Dr Maneesh Gupta