KOZHIKODE: A spurt in child sexual abuse cases was recorded for the period February- March 2017. “It’s an anomaly”. “Blame poor policing”. “The numbers are inflated”. This was the common refrain that echoed from the pulpit of newsrooms and through screaming headlines.
Sadly, reality lies somewhere far away. The spurt in abuse cases cannot be bracketed to a particular period or month or shrugged off as a ‘rare phenomenon’. It is unequivocally a sickening trend prevailing in Kerala right from 2013.
Ever since the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) came into being, sexual offences of all nature against children were registered under this Act. Data with police reveals the number of POCSO cases have been on the rise since 2013.
Even if we analyse the number of cases in the first quarter of each year between 2013 and 2017, we could see a steady spike in cases registered between January and March. Senior police officers said the scenario in Kerala has been really disturbing for the last couple of years and the sudden hype in the media is the fallout of a campaign unleashed by people with vested interests.
“The Kottiyoor rape incident involving a priest has triggered a chain reaction. And catching on the trend, details of other cases started hogging the media limelight.
Minimum three cases were registered daily in the state and none of these cases grabbed media attention,” officers said.
Prevention is the key
State police chief Loknath Behera said though much discourse took place after each sensational case, no concrete effort was taken by the authorities concerned at the grassroots level to identify a victim who was susceptible to abuse and prevent the crime. Behera says it’s impossible for the police to predict a crime of passion but concerted efforts by various agencies could identify the vulnerable category and take precautionary measures. “Society has a major role to play in ensuring safety and security of children. Parents and teachers have to be more alert as they could easily identify vulnerable children,” he said. “Police will not be hesitant to take action against the accused in these cases. We cannot suo motu register a POCSO case. For that, we should get a complaint either from the victim or from a third party,” he said.
POLICE TO SUBMIT A REPORT BEFORE HIGH COURT SEEKING COMPLETION OF TRIAL IN POCSO CASES IN A YEAR
Behera said the delay in disposal of cases is affecting the conviction of accused. There have been many cases in which the victim, a minor at the time of incident, refuses to appear before the court once he or she becomes an adult. “Usually, the trial drags on for three to four years and by the time, they become major. The victim loses interest as he or she doesn’t want to discuss the ordeal they went through at a young age,” he said. The DGP said the police department would submit a report to the High Court seeking its intervention in speedy completion of trial in POCSO cases.
Bedevilled: ABuse grinds on
Complicity of kin often shields predators
Kochi: Relatives of the victim and the predator, both belonging to the same family, allegedly tried to hush up a rape incident recently. However, the incident came to light following the intervention of local residents and the Child Welfare Committee (CWC). Later, the police arrested a UP-native settled in Kochi on charges of sexually abusing the 11-year-old girl for over one year. Shayazi Sheikh, 32, was arrested by the Palarivattom police two weeks ago under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.
When questioned, the victim and her relatives feigned ignorance and denied the charges levelled against the accused. The accused, a paternal brother of the victim who worked in a private company, was taken into custody after a medical examination confirmed rape. He confessed to the crime when interrogated in detail.
Soon after the police registered case, the family vacated their rented house in the city and moved to another place. “Curiously, even after the sexual abuse was confirmed, the victim and her relatives kept trying to save the accused,” said the police.
Man arrested for molesting minor
T’Puram : A 36-year-old man was arrested on Saturday by the Medical College police for allegedly molesting a 14-year-old girl. The accused is Jeejo, a resident of Pothujanam lane, Kumarapuram. Police said the victim is a class nine student of a prominent school in the city. The accused is a close friend of the victim’s father. He is married and the father of three children. A case under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) has been registered against the accused and he has been remanded in judicial custody.