Observing that crimes against women and children in the State have been hovering at an alarming rate since 2016, the Madras High Court has directed the Health Secretary to fill up at the earliest all vacancies in the posts of clinical pyschologists and counsellors in the 24 government medical college hospitals situated across the State.
Justices S. Manikumar and Subramonium Prasad also directed the Commissioner of Social Defence to fill up the vacant posts of counsellors in District Child Protection Units and observation homes. The interim orders were passed on a public interest litigation petition seeking establishment of counselling centres in all police stations.
During the course of hearing, the judges were informed that One Stop Centres had been established in all districts to provide counselling to victims of sexual abuse. However, the judges found that those centres were situated a few kilometres away from the government hospitals in each district and not inside those hospitals.
Since the victims would be in need of immediate medical and pyschological attention, they directed the officials concerned to mull over the possibility of establishing them inside the hospitals. Expressing shock over the statistics of crime against women and children in the last four years, the judges called more specific details from the police department.
As per the data submitted by Assistant Inspector General of Police (Law and Order), Mylapore, 336 rape cases were booked in the State in 2016, 294 in 2017, 341 in 2018 and 151 between January 1 and May 31 of 2019. The corresponding figures for molestation cases was 854, 744, 814 and 343 respectively.
Similarly, 6,246 women harassment cases had been booked in 2016, 6108 in 2017, 6382 in 2018 and 2767 till May 31 of 2019. The corresponding figures for kidnapping and abduction cases were 1020, 860,907 and 356. In total, around 10,000 crimes against women were being reported in the State consistently for last four years.
In so far as crimes against children were concerned, 1161 rape cases under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act were booked in 2016, 1154 in 2017, 1461 in 2018 and 700 till May 31, 2019. The corresponding figures for other offences booked under the POCSO Act were 414, 433, 581 and 275. More shockingly, the court was informed that 87 children were murdered in 2016, 65 in 2017, 3 in 2018 and 22 till May 31 this year.