17-year-old sexually abused by over 40 men in Kerala

Kerala police arrest 33 accused, charge them under various Sections of the POCSO Act

January 20, 2021 12:28 am | Updated 12:28 am IST - MALAPPURAM

Photograph used for representative purposes only

Photograph used for representative purposes only

A 17-year-old girl from Kerala’s Malappuram district was raped by dozens of men over four years, it has been found.

Initial investigations found 44 accused. The police arrested 33 of them, and slapped various charges under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act on them.

A special investigation team headed by DySP of Perinthalmanna has been formed to look into the case that involved alleged lapses and lack of care from those who should have been caring for and protecting the child.

The girl from an “extremely vulnerable family and social background” had been rescued three times and shifted to the Nirbhaya short stay home since 2016. The Child Welfare Committee (CWC) released her and sent her back to her family each time on the basis of reports from the District Child Protection Unit.

29 cases registered

It was found that the authorities neither formulated an individual care plan for the girl nor did they appoint a supporting person to follow up on her rehabilitation after her release from the Nirbhaya home.

The large-scale sexual abuse came to light after the police looking into a missing person case located her and offered her counselling with the help of the CWC. CWC chairperson Shajesh Bhaskar said the girl had not revealed anything about the abuse until the last counselling they offered her. The police registered 29 cases of sexual abuse following her revelation. The police are now investigating different angles, including the possibility that the girl was sold.

The girl was first abused in 2016, when she was 13 years old, by a man from Thiruvananthapuram. Although she was rescued and the accused booked under POCSO Act, she was allowed to rejoin her family within a few days.

She was abused by other men in 2017 and was rescued by the CWC. During her long stay at Nirbhaya home, she reportedly displayed signs of mental distress and was treated at the Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (IMHANS), Kozhikode.

Under distress

She was released from the Nirbhaya home after she was found to be stable. However, the authorities have been accused of failing to evaluate the child’s social vulnerability before allowing her to go.

Police sources said that the number of persons involved in abusing the girl could be more than four dozen. The girl is reportedly under distress as she was subjected to tests and made to give statements in connection with the 32 FIRs filed so far.

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