A history of Megan’s Law against child sexual abuse in America
If I had known that there was a sexual predator living across the street from me, I never would have let her play outside on the front yard by herself. Why are his rights to privacy more important than my daughter’s rights to safety? -Maureen Kanka, mother of Megan Kanka
It is this quote by the mother of this little girl, which gained nationwide attention and contributed towards the creation and passing of Megan’s Law. Under Megan’s Law, it is compulsory for law enforcement to inform the public about sex offenders which may be residing in their neighborhoods. This information can be made public via the Internet, newspapers, posters and other mediums. Information about the sex offenders includes their name, physical characteristics, address, and the nature of the crimes they have committed. Megan’s Law is supplemented by the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, which provides registration requirements for all sex offenders, and also classifies them into tiers based on the intensity of their crimes. It was also amended with the Jacob Wetterling Crimes against Children and Sexually Violent Offender Registration Act, which made it compulsory for each state to implement and maintain a registry of sex offenders and those who had committed crimes against children.
Laws apart however, it is important to know Megan’s story.
Megan Kanka went to her neighbor’s house on July 29th 1994 to play with some puppies. She was raped, suffocated, and strangled to death with a belt. Her lifeless body was assaulted yet again before being placed in a wooden toy chest, which was dumped at a local park. She was 7 years old.
There is no pleasant, objective, or clinical manner in which the brutal death of a child can be described. Emotions are but natural, as is the feeling of rage and helplessness. What could a young child possibly have said or done in order to be brutalized in this inhuman fashion, and have her bright future cut off so abruptly? Why would an adult human feel the need to assault a little girl?
The United States of America is known for it’s numerous child protection policies, individual state laws against crimes against children, and varying opinions on whether or not to impose the death penalty on repeat sex offenders. The dialogue on these issues is constant, cases are addressed, and a high rate of success is achieved in context with finding some form of justice for the families, which have faced an irreplaceable loss.
Reported incidents of child rape in India have increased by 336% since 2001, as reported by the Asian Center for Human Rights [ACHR], and unclear laws with hazy definitions over the definition of a crime and subsequent punishment of an offender have made justice for aggrieved families a virtual impossibility. It is hoped that by taking a leaf out of Megan’s Law, the Indian legal system will take a much-needed look at the existing child protection and wellness policies in existence, and will work towards amending laws, which will in turn, provide justice to those who deserve it.