Will someone look within Mumbai's homes?

Will someone look within Mumbai's homes?

Busy election times are when political parties and their shenanigans capture news space in all media.

Two tiny reports, which still found their way into newsprint this week, however, make for chilling reading. They will never make the headlines they deserve while we speculate endlessly on which party will eventually get its own candidate to become the city's new mayor.

One dealt with the alleged desecration of a cross outside a church in the suburbs last weekend. The news was understandably played down. What emerged on the day the city went to the polls was more interesting. The police cracked the case and arrested a teenager on charges of defiling the statue by snatching a chain that hung around its neck.

It is the boy's story that tells the grimmer tale. In his confession, the youth told the police that he had heard that it was a chain of gold that adorned the statue. He needed the money, he said, to get his father out of jail on bail. The father, the only earning member of the family, has been in jail for a minor offence. The theft was the only option left for the youth, who snatched the chain with the help of a friend and fled. The statue was damaged in the process.

On the day the election results were announced, a Mumbai court sentenced a father to life imprisonment for sexually abusing his daughter for several years. The teenage daughter, who had been forced into submission by threats that her younger brothers would be hurt, had been suffering the abuse since her mother succumbed to TB some years ago. She finally got the courage to complain to the police, but later retracted her statement. It was only during the cross examination that she confessed that she did not want her father to go to jail. The reason - three younger siblings at home and no earning member.

These are merely examples of the youth who inhabit this golden metropolis where we are being promised everything from metros to penguins to coastal roads.

Will someone sometime look at the micro picture too? The police and courts do their jobs in rounding up 'criminals' and sending off the young to remand homes, where conditions are often too pathetic to recount.

The family unit in the city is straining at the seams, not just in the slums where physical abuse of young children by known persons continues to be on the rise, but also among the affluent where a different set of morals appears to be at work.

And yet, filial bonds in this materialistic city continue to be strong - the teenager who is willing to steal to bail his father out and the young girl who wants her father out of jail because the family needs an income.

Will the new order in the city pause a moment to think about them?

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