Joseph Conrad, the Polish-born English novelist once wrote, “The belief in a supernatural source of evil is not necessary; men alone are quite capable of every wickedness.”

I am convinced of  the wickedness of the human race when I read news reports like this one which states that mentally challenged girls staying at an orphanage in Kalamboli are being sexually abused.

A routine visit by a panel set up by the Bombay High Court to inspect the functioning of orphanages in the state opened up a can of worms after the committee submitted a report alleging sexual abuse of mentally-challenged minor girls staying at the Kalyani Mahila Bal Seva Sanstha orphanage located in Kalamboli, Navi Mumbai.

The report said that there are 19 mentally deficient girls in that orphanage and it is believed that their security and well-being are at serious risk.

The committee wrote in their report that the caretaker of the sanstha, who is hearing-impaired, seemed mentally disturbed herself, and was thus incapable of managing the girls. What is further shocking is that the report states that around seven girls had died since 2003, but no appropriate records have been maintained and the reasons for their death are not clear.

I was shocked at this report, but not surprised, since these type of news reports are becoming more and more common. Every few weeks we read about sexual abuse of women in private or state-run Homes, of mentally challenged women, of minor girls in orphanages.

In short, sexual abuse seems to take place wherever the abusers feel they can get away with it. Usually the women caretakers of the Homes are hand-in-glove with the men who take advantage of the women staying in these homes.

How can human beings commit such atrocities, I wonder?  Or have they sunk so low that it is a stretch of imagination to call them human at all?

There is a subhaashit that aptly sums up the situation .

आहारनिद्राभयमैथुनं च सामान्यमेतत् पशुभिर्नराणाम्।
धर्मो हि तेषां अधिको विशेषो धर्मेण हीनाः पशुभिः समानाः॥
 Eating for sustenance, sleep, capacity for fear, and sexual activity, these four are common to both animals and humans. The only extra distinguishing characteristic that humans have is Dharma. Unless a person conducts these four activities within the limits of Dharma, he is no different from an animal. Humans without Dharma are the equivalent of animals.