KOCHI: On February 2, the Kalady police arrested a 23-year-old woman on charges of sexually abusing a minor boy. According to the officers, Raji, a resident of Kadappara near Malayattoor, was booked following a complaint filed by the victim’s mother, who is an acquaintance of the accused. In her complaint registered on January 12, the nine-year-old boy’s mother told officers that the accused sexually abused her son multiple times.
In Malappuram last month, mother of a minor girl provided assistance to her friend to sexually abuse her daughter.
While cases against men for sexually abusing minors are dime a dozen, it seems women are also now involved in similar crimes. As per the data available with the state’s Home Department, 163 women have figured as accused in POCSO Act cases from May 25 to December 4, 2018. As many as 6,924 cases were registered during this period.
According to officers, two per cent of the total accused for abuse of minors are women. In the Kalady incident, case was registered against the accused under sections 7, 8, 9 (m) and 10 of the POCSO Act. A medical examination of the boy at the government hospital in Thiruvananthapuram and then at Kalady confirmed he was sexually abused. Subsequently, the accused was remanded in judicial custody.
The POCSO Act does not look at the gender of the person responsible for causing sexual harassment. Legal experts say cases involving women as accused keep escalating. “In Kochi too, more similar cases are being reported. Apart from sexual abuse, majority of the women are accused mainly for concealing the incidents or providing aid to the accused for sexual assault,” said Sandhya Rani, Special Prosecutor, the Additional District and Sessions Court for POCSO cases.
As per the figures, during the above period, women were named accused in 33 cases in Ernakulam district, with Kochi City police and Ernakulam Rural police registering 18 and 15 cases respectively. Thiruvananthapuram Rural police registered 30 cases and city 11.
“The backward social and economic circumstances is the major reason behind this kind of cases,” Sandhya added.
Pariyaram Medical College Psychiatry professor Dr A V Druhin echoed the view citing that many times the parents, especially mothers, may not reveal this sort of cases, due to the fear of being victimised by the society or stigma.
Threat from criminals involved in the case is another reason. In certain other cases, they hide things due to poverty. Druhin said security aspect of the victim and the family has to be given primary importance. “If it’s ensured, more revelations will be made. Social awareness about respecting victim’s privacy should be made.”
High Court lawyer Unni Sebastian Kappen said the increase of women accused in POCSO cases can be attributed to the rise in matrimonial disputes and monetary issues between litigating parties.
“Several disputes are pending in Family Courts where a minor child’s father has registered complaints against the mother and her relatives for physically and sexually abusing the child. Though such cases may not see the light of the day, the damage might have already been done.
A child below the age of 10 can’t be expected to differentiate between a ‘good’ and ‘bad’ touch, that too inside the four corners of the court hall,” he said.