HYDERABAD: In the last two years, as many as 280 POCSO Act cases have been reported from Hyderabad city alone. These cases were reported to Bharosa Centre of Hyderabad police from May 2016 till date.
As for the convictions, the special child-friendly court, established here on April 11, this year, to hear POCSO cases, has convicted two accused and sentenced them both to 3 years imprisonment. On the whole, a total of 97 convictions have been recorded in POCSO cases from Hyderabad in the last two years.
On a day the Union Cabinet approved an ordinance to allow courts to award death penalty to those convicted of raping children up to 12 years of age, the landmark decision has evoked a mixed response from people from different walks of life.
Some say, the certainty of punishment is what acts as deterrence and not intensity of it. Whereas, assured death penalty alone cannot prevent girls from getting raped and much more needs to be done.
"Such crimes are also result of several other socio-economic factors. Often, the perpetrators come from a background of disturbed childhood. They turn psychopaths craving for revenge with no one to check on them. It does not help if you want to punish them with a death penalty. Reformation is what can help," said Vinoy Kumar Singh, D-G of Prisons and Correctional Services. According to him, what prevents an incident of rape is certainty of punishment. "Intensity of crime will not be a deterrent," he added.
Inspector General (Women Safety), Swati Lakra, welcomed the Centre's decision but urged for efficient investigation and fast-tracking of court procedures. "Like our dedicated POCSO court in Hyderabad, we will soon have courts all across the State. With all amenities and keen monitoring, better results can be achieved in districts too," she said.
Meanwhile, Sunitha Krishnan, activist and founder of Prajwala, set up for the rehabilitation of rape and trafficked victims, said that though she is not against the move of the Centre, the death penalty or any other serious action does not solve the problem.
She pointed out that there has been no speedy execution of justice for years.
“I have around 100 victims aged between 3-10 years whose cases have to tried under POCSO Act, but none of them have been started yet. There in no closure in terms of justice, despite the Act mandating that they have to be over within a year,” she said.
Once there is speedy justice, where for example, in 10 cases, all 10 are awarded punishment, it will act as a deterrence mechanism to prevent rapes, she added.
She also suggested that rapes aren’t the only crimes. Voyeurism, molestation, assault are all part of the sex crimes and it is important that there are solutions for this too.
Krishnan, for a long time, has been advocating the creation of sex offenders registry and sex offenders support programme.
While the former, is to name and shame offenders, list them on public domain which will alert the public while creating a fear among those committing crimes, the latter will help offenders.
690 cases of child rape in Telangana: NCRB
As per the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data-2016, released in December 2017, Telangana State has reported as many as 690 cases of child rape (under section 4 and 6 of POCSO Act and Section 376 IPC) and 189 cases of sexual assaults on children (under section 8 & 10 of POCSO and section 354 of IPC). Similarly, figures for overall POCSO cases from that year reveals as many as 1158 incidents involving 1159 victims. Where as, figures for total crime against children( under POCSO, IPC, and other special and local laws) reveals 2900 incidents involving 3,242 victims. However, during the same period, only 277 persons were remanded to judicial custody and 75 were convicted by court with respect to rape cases.