Published: 27th October 2021
Child abuse cases in Kerala rise while conviction rates remain low since 2016
A total 17,198 cases were registered under the POCSO Act from 2016 to October 3, 2021. Of these, police had submitted chargesheets in 14,496 cases
Even as Kerala is witnessing a rise in incidents of sexual violence or harassment against children, there has been a decline in the rate of conviction in the cases registered under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act over the past few years. As per the government data, accused persons were convicted only in 2.87% of the total POCSO cases registered in the past five years.
Triggering concern, the conviction rate in such cases has been declining over the years. As per the data revealed by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, while replying to a question raised by MLA Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan in the assembly, a total 17,198 cases were registered under the POCSO Act from 2016 to October 3, 2021. Of these, police had submitted chargesheets in 14,496 cases. But, the accused persons were convicted only in 417 cases (2.87%).
While 2,026 cases reached the trial stage in 2016, accused persons were convicted only in 196 cases (8.34%). The conviction rate declined to 4.88% in 2017 as the accused faced action only in 124 cases, while chargesheets were filed in 2,536 cases in the year.In 2018, the rate further declined to 2.23%, with conviction happening only in 67 cases, of the total 2,993. While the police filed chargesheet in 3,368 cases in 2019, accused faced action only in 24 cases (0.71%). In 2020, of the total 2,581 cases that reached the trial stage, accused were convicted only in six cases (0.23%).
Interestingly, none of the POCSO case accused was convicted till October 3, 2021, though a total of 2,501 cases were registered and chargesheets were filed in 992 cases. B Babitha, member of the Kerala State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, said, "The victims and witnesses turning hostile during the trial of cases is the major reason for the worrisome situation. The court, prosecution and investigation agency are helpless in such situations. This tendency is visible in a majority of cases. However, there were many cases in which the victims stood strong and the accused were punished."
She further said awareness should be created among children and parents to prevent victims and witnesses from turning hostile.