Police plan project; rape figures of 2013 tell a sordid tale

The Thiruvananthapuram city police have set its eyes on making the State capital child-friendly. An action plan is being chalked out to tackle child abusers and ensure safety for the young ones of Thiruvananthapuram.

The project will have a children’s helpline based at the city police headquarters for children to directly seek the help of the police. A counselling centre, School Protection Groups, and in due course, a de-addiction centre will be part of the project, according to City Commissioner P. Vijayan.

The multi-pronged project includes strengthening of investigation into crimes against children, completion of such probes in a time-bound manner, prevention of access to drugs, making available infrastructure and personnel for counselling and healthcare in schools among others.

A major reason for the project was a bit of data that Reji Jacob, Assistant Commissioner (District Crime Records Bureau), showed Mr. Vijayan. As per figures collected at the DCRB, the number of rape cases registered in the city was slowly climbing. From 39 in 2011, it became 41 in 2012, and 51 in 2013. But the disturbing factor was an additional figure for 2013. Of the 51 rape cases registered last year, 30 were in connection with sexual abuse of children in the age group of 14 to 17 years, while four pertained to sexual abuse of children below 10 years of age. This year, in less than a month, at least five cases had already been reported from the district against minors, two of them from the city.

Mr. Jacob said statistics of previous years were being verified. The figure was disturbing since these were only the reported cases. There would be many that went unreported. In the four cases on children below 10 years, offenders included a father, a stepfather and two close relatives, indicating that children were not safe in their own homes. Majority of the other cases involved girls who had been tricked into eloping from school with men and later returning home, sexually abused.

Recently the police had checked the attendance registers of eight schools in the city an hour after morning attendance was taken. It was found that 200 children, both boys and girls, had bunked classes, Mr. Jacob said. Many parents did not even know that their children used mobile phones. There was an urgent need to tighten monitoring and extend counselling and moral support to children to avoid them from falling prey to sexual and drug abuse, he said.