KOCHI: The incidents mentioned above are just a few of the increasing number of cases that come before the Childline and Ernakulam Child Welfare Committee (CWC) every day. Both organisations record around three to four cases daily. According to Bitty Joseph, CWC chairperson, a total of 3,761cases were reported in the district between March and November this year.
“We keep getting calls every day from neighbours, teachers and even relatives of the children seeking intervention,” she added. She said around 149 Pocso cases were registered in the district since March. “As many as 29 child labour cases were reported while 18 children were given for adoption. As many as 1,257 children were placed in protection during the period,” said Bitty.
She said an alarming trend in the district is an increase in the number of cases involving grandfathers. “High cost of living has forced both parents to work and . This leaves them with no option but to leave their children with either hired help or the grandparents.” Single mothers too don’t have an option, she added. “And it has been seen that sexual abuse is committed by very close and trusted relatives,” said Bitty.
According to Fr Jenson Varyath, director, Childline, the most number of child abuse cases in the district was reported between April and September. “We got around 890 cases among which physical abuse featured the most,” he said. “A total of 384 cases including sexual and emotional abuse, child marriage, corporal punishment, child labour, bonded labour, child trafficking and beggary were registered,” he added.
The remaining 506 accounted for drug and substance abuse, child missing complaints, neglect, parents seeking help and 231 unclassified cases. “We have found that sexual abuse was reported the most among children below 16 years of age. Children between the age of six and 10 are most vulnerable to sexual abuse. They don’t understand what’s happening and if it is being perpetrated by a trusted relative like father or grandfather, they are shocked into silence,” he said. “Besides fathers, grandfathers, male relatives and neighbours, cases of children being abused by their teachers and even schoolmates have been reported,” he said.
An 11-year-old girl, whose parents had placed her in the care of paternal grandparents, had been subjected to sexual abuse by her grandfather for 10 months. The issue came to light when the child developed a urinary infection and conveyed the same to her tuition teacher. On medical examination, the child was found to be sexually abused. The matter was notified to the Childline.
A ten-month-old baby girl who was left in the charge of a 60-year-old male relative by her mother while she went to get fodder for livestock was molested by the man. The man was found molesting the baby by his wife. On being caught, the man absconded and committed suicide after a few days.
A couple was arrested for sexually abusing a 12-year-old girl. The child’s parents were tenants at the house owned by the couple. It was found that the abuse had been going on for months.
A three-year-old boy belonging to a migrant family from Jharkhand was admitted to a city hospital with serious injuries, which the doctors suspected were signs of abuse.