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Kerala Witnesses Fourfold Surge in POCSO Cases; Child Rights Panel Validates Concerns

A recent report from the Kerala State Commission for Protection of Child Rights sheds light on the disturbing prevalence of sexual offenses against children in the state. This report, based on cases registered under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act in Kerala during the last year, uncovers a troubling pattern: a significant number of children faced sexual abuse within their own homes.

However, the distressing reality extends beyond households. Children have also been victimized in various other settings, including schools, vehicles, religious institutions, hospitals, childcare facilities, and even friends’ houses. Disturbingly, the report reveals that 601 of the accused were neighbors, and 170 were teachers, making it all the more disconcerting. Moreover, children were able to identify 908 of the accused, highlighting the gravity of the issue. Most of the victims were girls aged between 15 to 18.

In the year covered by the Commission’s 2022-2023 annual report, a total of 4,582 POCSO cases were reported in Kerala, resulting in 5,002 individuals being accused. Among these, 4,643 were men, and 115 were women. Regrettably, data concerning the remaining 244 cases remain undisclosed by the police.

Breaking down the location of these offenses, 1,004 cases occurred within children’s homes, with 133 incidents reported in schools, 102 in vehicles, 99 at hotels, 96 at friends’ houses, 60 in religious institutions, 29 in hospitals, and 12 in childcare facilities. Disturbingly, among the 4,642 children who fell victim to sexual offenses, 55 were in the age group of 0 to 4, and 367 were aged between 5 to 9.

The report also underscores an alarming trend. Over the past decade since the enactment of the POCSO Act in 2012, the number of cases in Kerala has quadrupled. In 2013, 1,002 cases were reported, and this number surged to 4,582 in 2022.

In terms of geographical distribution, Thiruvananthapuram district reported the highest number of POCSO cases last year, with 583 cases, followed by Malappuram with 555 cases and Ernakulam with 464 cases. In contrast, Pathanamthitta district reported the lowest number of cases, with 189 incidents. This report serves as a stark reminder of the urgent need to address and combat this distressing issue within the state.


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