Child abuse: convictions in State few and far between

Persons accused in child sexual assault cases in Hyderabad have mostly been walking free, if the conviction rate is any indication.

Of 521 cases reported under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act since the formation of State in 2014, just 41 have reached the conviction stage till date. While about a 100 are still under investigation, around 150 reached “out-of-court settlement”.

Worse still, nearly 75% of the accused were either relatives or neighbours of the raped child or assault survivor.

Sorry state

Not just the city, the rest of the State fares poorly when it comes to child protection — 1,057 cases were reported in 2016, of which about 65% are pending investigation or in court for trial, State Crime Records Bureau data reveals.

Alarmingly, among victims of child sexual assault that year were 25 children below six years, 65 between six and 12 years, and 272 in the 12-16 age bracket.

A total of 155 accused persons who have not faced trial since 2016 in Telangana were relatives of the victims while 123 accused were close family members. “POCSO cases are admitted quickly in any police station. But the investigation and trial period take a toll on victims,” says David Raj, Senior Programme Manager, Division for Child Rights, an independent body supported by the UNICEF.

However, there has been a slight increase in the number of reported cases under POCSO from 2014 to 2018 in Hyderabad. In 2014, 98 cases were reported as against 105 in 2015. In 2016, 156 cases were registered. In 2017, the figure rose to 162.

Child rights experts attribute the slight rise to increased awareness and efficient reporting mechanisms, including child-friendly helpline centre.

Fast track court

Police officials dealing with POCSO cases, however, point out that a fast track child-friendly court established in April this year has already convicted three accused booked under the Act. The court has 125 pending cases set for trial.

Speaking to The Hindu, Shikha Goel, Additional Commissioner of Police (Crime), Hyderabad, explains, “The time to reach conviction varies from case to case. But with a child-friendly court in place, we are expecting an increased conviction rate. Currently, of all the cases which were taken to court, 25% have reached a logical conclusion.”

Most importantly, Bharosa Counselling Centres and special court work in the interest of children who are exempted from coming to the police station under the POCSO Act.

Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Aug 12, 2020 9:16:27 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/child-abuse-convictions-in-state-few-and-far-between/article23963256.ece

Next Story