Case for POCSO special court in Thrissur

The increasing number of cases registered under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and the abysmal rate of conviction are a cause for concern in Thrissur district.

The huge number of pending cases calls for an urgent need for a special POCSO court in the district.

In all, 736 cases have been registered under the Act in the district since it came into effect five years ago. The number of cases has gone up from 76 in 2013 to 191 in 2016 and 178 so far in 2017, as per the statistics of the Child Welfare Committee (CWC).

Alarmingly, verdict came in only less than 10 cases.

“The never-ending wait to complete trial in POCSO cases is a cause for severe mental trauma in the victims,” says Pious Mathew, special prosecutor in POCSO cases.

There are only three exclusive POCSO courts in Ernakulam, Thiruvananthapuram, and Kozhikode in the State. District courts have been designated as POCSO courts in the other districts.

District courts burdened

“District courts, already burdened with a large number of pending cases, fail to provide speedy trial in POCSO cases. Child victims often have to wait for years for the trial to begin. By the time, they are called for trial, many might have got married or gained employment, pushing them to traumatic situations once again,” Mr. Mathew said.

It should be recalled that the POCSO Act specifies special courts to deal with such cases. The Act insists completion of trial within a year. The delay in providing justice weakens the very essence of the Act, say child rights activists.

“Lack of facilities to rehabilitate girls is another major concern in the district. In the absence of a girls’ home or Nirbhaya facilities, victims are often sent to centres such as Mahila Manidram, which are not really meant for girls,” said Anjali Muraleedharan, district coordinator of ChildLine. The CWC had sent around 65 girls in crisis to various institutions after 2016 alone.

The fact that 47% of sexual abuse victims are teenagers is another concern for the authorities. “In many cases child victims get pregnant. Such cases often call for abortions, facilities for child births, pre-natal care, and care for newborns. In all, 32 child rape victims got pregnant in Thrissur district. Investigation and trial process are difficult in cases of consensual relationships,” CWC chairman P.O. George said.

Child rights activists call for more awareness about the POCSO Act, speedy trial, and stringent punishment to provide a more safe situation for children.

Article source: Legal News

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