In the eastern parts of Kollam crime seems almost infectious. In the last 30 days, three suicide cases reported in Punalur subdivision involved accused in different POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act ) cases. Add to it the ever-increasing juvenile offenders, drug addicts, child brides, domestic abuse, man missing cases and the picture turns bleaker.
While the region is well on its way to become a crime hotspot, the department has come up with a novel initiative to take control of the situation.
Nine stations coming under the subdivision will soon start Nanma counselling centres in an attempt to help victims and curb surging crime rates. “A considerable population from this area belongs to socially and economically backward sections. Suicides, sexual offences and cases under the POCSO Act are escalating and this initiative has been conceived as a preventive step,” says Punalur Dy.SP. B. Krishnakumar. The Nanma counselling centres attached to Punalur, Pathanapuram, Kunnicode, Anchal, Eroor, Kulathupuzha, Thenmala, Kadakkal, and Chadayamangalam police stations will be offering counselling to crime victims and their relatives, helping them deal with the trauma.
“Underprivileged victims often turn into criminals if they don’t receive psychiatric help at the right time. Parents are unaware of the seriousness of the situation and often they can’t afford private counsellors. All the government facilities are city-centred and it’s not possible for the people from these parts to visit Kollam or Thiruvananthapuram for the purpose,” Mr. Krishnakumar says.
As part of the initiative, the department will get in touch with the victims of all cases registered in the stations within the last two years. The counselling sessions will be handled by a team of experts, including psychiatrists, psychologists and counsellors along with ASHA workers, teachers, Kudumbasree workers, SC/ST promoters, NGOs and ORC volunteers.
Lack of legal awareness is an important factor when it comes to child marriages and domestic violence cases. “There are tribal communities that consider child marriages quite normal. They have no clue it’s illegal and when notified our only option is to register a case against the husband and remand him. We had three such cases in the last two months where we had to arrest the hapless husbands for rape,” adds Mr. Krishnakumar.
While the offenders and the victims will be given counselling at a room with a separate entry to the station, the Nanma team will be visiting schools and homes to spread awareness.