Crimes against children up

POCSO Act found ineffective in protecting children

June 11, 2016 12:00 am | Updated October 18, 2016 12:55 pm IST - MALAPPURAM:

Crimes against children, particularly sexual offences, have increased considerably in the State in the last three years in spite of stringent special laws enacted to protect children in 2012. The State witnessed a spurt in rape of children and other crimes, including unnatural sexual offences, even after the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act came into effect in November 2012.

State police records show that 2,373 cases were registered for crimes against children in 2015, including 711 rapes, 160 abductions and 36 murders. The figures showed a startling jump from the number of crimes against children in the previous years.

In 2008, the State registered 549 cases. The cases went up to 589 in 2009 and 596 in 2010. The next year, the crimes against children rose to 1,452. In the last three years and a quarter since the enactment of the POCSO Act, the State witnessed more than 7,200 recorded crimes against children.

Unrecorded cases

Many more, according to the police and authorities responsible for child protection, had gone unrecorded on various grounds, including family and institutions’ shame. The number of child rapes increased from 208 in 2010 to 711 in 2015.

In the first three months of 2016 alone, the State witnessed 219 rapes of children. “This is a clear indication that the POCSO Act has been ineffective in our State,” said a senior police officer requesting anonymity.

The POCSO Act, which offers a minimum three years in prison for sexual assault, seven years for penetrative sexual assault, and 10 years for aggravated penetrative sexual assault, was enacted to protect children from sexual offences and to provide a child-friendly system for the trial of those offences.

The special legislation was made as the Indian Penal Code did not specifically provide for sexual offences against children, particularly boys. Interestingly, more than 90 per cent of the sexual offences against children were committed by persons close them, such as relatives, neighbours and teachers.

When those responsible for giving care and protection to the children are found to be the perpetrators of the crime, the effectiveness of the POCSO Act is in doubt.

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