RAIPUR, India: Though Chhattisgarh state, hugs fourth rung in rogue's gallery on crime against children in 2014 contributing to 4.9% to all-India figure, shocking numbers of incidents have been registered under Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) since its inception.
On an average, three children are sexually molested everyday in Chhattisgarh.
TOI accessed data of incidents registered under POCSO in state from November 2012 to March 2015, according to which 2,708 cases were reported from 27 districts for child molestation.
State capital recorded maximum number of 288 cases under POCSO, followed by Durg with 256 cases while 190 incidents were reported in Raigarh district. Among the vulnerable remote districts, Koriya recorded 165 cases, followed by Jashpur district with 157 incidents of child assault.
At a place where people hesitate in reporting about such incidents to police, number of incidents recorded is quite high. This indicates that there are a number of cases which still go unreported, a senior police officer said.
Incidentally, of 2708 cases registered, accused in only 193 incidents have gone behind the bars while, of 2,377 cases presented before court, 1,732 are still pending and alleged accused in 452 cases have been acquitted.
So nearly 77% of cases result in acquittals! Clearly justice is not being served. Either people are being wrongfully charged, or police and prosecutors are doing a very lousy job of gathering evidence; or, judges are being too sympathetic to pedophiles. Whatever the problem(s) is, it does not appear to be in the best interest of sexually abused children to come forward and endure a trial that has a less than 1 in 4 chance of success. Then, 3 of 4 possible sexual abusers are back on the streets and probably furious at the poor child who reported them. The children are arguably worse off than before. This system has got to improve dramatically - so far it is a major FAIL.
The situation not only calls for justice through fast-track courts, but creating awareness about newly formed Act among children and parents. Besides, proper training to police officials for imposing appropriate sections of the Act is also essential.
CID child cell has been imparting training to police in several districts in collaboration with Delhi-based NGOs, but the need for more is always felt amid ignorance.
Talking to TOI, Vikram Srivastava, prominent advocate and founder of Independent Thought in Delhi said, "High number of cases signifies that children and parents are gaining confidence in terms of reporting. It's very important to inform children in schools about protection and its mechanisms like ChildLine number."
He added that children in conflict zones at residential schools at both government and non-government institutions are most vulnerable, unaware and ignorant of right and wrong. "Hence, it's very important to implement effective legal mechanisms under juvenile justice Act and ICPS," Vikram said.