While the demand for more stringent punishment to offenders of crimes against women is increasing, the lone Mahila Court here has handed out punishments to persons who stand as accused in 18 rape cases in this calendar year. The court officials claim it is a record of sorts compared with other Mahila Courts in the State.

The special court, also called as Magalir Neethimandram, was constituted in 2002 for speedy trial and disposal of cases of offences committed against women and also cases under other social laws for the protection of women. This year, the court disposed of 90 cases relating to rape, kidnap, wrongful confinement and dowry harassment.

Out of 90 disposed cases, 40 were cases relating to rape while 50 others to dowry harassment, death. In 18 rape cases, the court handed out punishments ranging from seven years to life imprisonment to the offenders while acquitting the accused in 22 cases.

Gowri Ashokan, Public Prosecutor, claimed that the conviction rate could be increased if the defence side conducted the cases without seeking any adjournment.

Explaining the reason on acquittal in 22 cases, she said the witnesses, especially family members, turned hostile during trial as the accused either consented to marry the victim or married her.