KOZHIKODE: Though there is a significant increase in the registering of POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) cases in the state, the conviction rate is very low. As per the state crime records bureau, 2658 POCSO cases were recorded in 2017. The law came into force in November 2012, and the total number of cases reported in Kerala is 6833, until December 2017. It was 2122 in 2016. But, until December 2016, the conviction rate is a steep low of 14.50 percent. It was only 7.25 in 2016.
District-wise, Thiruvananthapuram tops the chart with 362 cases, followed by Kozhikode (276). In 2016 also, it was the second most populated capital district that topped the chart with 539 cases. In 2017, the least populated Wayanad registered only 103 cases. “Very low conviction rate is the major problem with POCSO cases. According to the law, a special prosecutor should be appointed, but it has not happened anywhere. Witnesses turning hostile is another major issue which weakens the cases,” said Thiruvananthapuram district child protection officer (DCPO) Subair K.
Of the 362 cases there, girls are the victims in 356 cases. “Almost in 65 percent of the cases, the accused are known to the victims,” he says. The DCPO says that sittings in every three months with headmasters/principals of schools have made reporting of child abuse cases vigilantly.
Malappuram DCPO Samir Machingal says complaint withdrawing trend is also a concern. “The court proceedings will take time as all procedures must be child-friendly without making them go through the ordeal again. By that time, a child should be close to adulthood, and along with other pressures the victim could be pressured to withdraw the case,” he says.