BENGALURU: With 273 cases in 2015, Bengaluru has reported the highest number of cases filed under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. Also, Karnataka comes fourth among states in registering such cases, according to the Crime In India report released by the National Crime Records Bureau on Tuesday.
What’s more shocking is that in 97.4 per cent of the cases registered in the state, the offenders and victims were known to each other. However, experts suggest that the high figure for Bengaluru could be due to greater sensitization and subsequent reporting of these crimes.
In 2015, 1,073 cases were registered in the state under POCSO Act while Bengaluru recorded 273 cases, of which 276 were victims.
In Karnataka, kids aged between 16 and 18 form the majority of victims with 520 of them falling under this bracket. While 33 children under 6 years were sexually exploited, 419 aged between 12 and 16 were abused. In Karnataka, family members were tormentors in 44 cases, 43 were close kin, 82 were distant relatives, 390 neighbours while 28 were unidentified.
Vasudev Sharma, a child rights activist, said, “I am not at all shocked by the numbers but relieved that more cases are being booked. Earlier, these cases were not coming out as people were afraid to expose such offences. But things have changed. That most tormentors are known to victims isn’t surprising as victims are never in a state to point a finger at the accused.”
But what is worrying is that only 1-1.5 per cent of the registered cases see conviction. Trial in most cases ends abruptly, either due to lack of evidence or the victim turning hostile. Activists say police follow outdated methods to collect evidence and don’t evince much interest in trials. More cases are being reported with doctors, counsellors and NGOs bringing it to the notice of police as POCSO Act entails punishment for non-reporting.
Dr B N Gangadhar, director, NIMHANS, said, “Studies show early child or adolescent abuse can cause serious disruptions in mental health. The child suffers from psychiatric symptoms throughout life. The family should be sympathetic, listen and never make them feel guilty. With time, scars may heal.”