Rajya Sabha

July 24, 2019

Derek O’Brien makes an intervention on The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill, 2019

Derek O’Brien makes an intervention on The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill, 2019


Sir, I stand here to happily and strongly support this Bill and also express my disappointment that there was an opportunity over the next two to three months to try and improve this Bill and moreover use those to two to three months, had this Bill gone to the Select Committee, to create a lot of awareness on this subject. All my senior colleagues have spoken about the punishment on offer. And I am lucky today because, along with the minister speaking, the Information & Broadcasting Minister is also here. 

I just want to make one single point – it is not about the punishment. Let me just spend three minutes on prevention – how can we prevent this from happening. Where does it all start. Someone mentioned it starts from newspapers, from TV channels, from social media… It’s very clear where it starts. It starts from your home, my home and everybody’s homes because all the cases today which come to light start with “mama ne touch kiya, kaka ne touch kiya”. And what do we do? We say “aisa baat mat karo”, and the child after hearing this actually does not express him/herself. 

The only reason for making this intervention is that I would like to urge more people especially in public life, if you have been sexually abused or harassed as a child, to please come up and speak about it. The more MPs who come and speak, the more actors and actresses, the more cricketers and the more common people… That’s how more families will get encouraged to speak about this. And that’s what I want to speak about today, Sir, with a lot of pride and sadness and hurt. But I think India needs to know because my family knows that on a bus in Kolkata, as a 13-year-old after doing tennis practice wearing short pants and t-shirt, I got onto a crowded bus and I don’t know who it was, but with my short pants and t-shirt, I was sexually molested. I am giving you these explicit details Sir because it was reason enough for someone, some unknown man to come and ejaculate at the shorts of this boy. 

Sir, I didn’t speak about it, six years, seven years, eight years, till I brought it up once much later in my life with my parents and that is the kind of way I urge all of us here across political parties, the Information and Broadcasting Minister is here, the Minister who is bringing this Bill herself has a great track record on television to reach out to people. We need to use this forum to reach out to people. The more people will talk about it, the more we start talking about it, the more children will be saved. Punishment, very good let the courts do. Let’s work towards prevention of this heinous crime. 

Thank you Sir.