A 52-year-old preacher was arrested for allegedly molesting a 12-year-old boy in Thiruvananthapuram.
According to the Aryanad police, the 12-year-old survivor would take a bus home from the Aryanad bus depot after school. On October 26, the accused, identified as Raju aka Johnson, allegedly waylaid the survivor in the bathroom of the bus depot and abused him.
The accused is reportedly a preacher who led various prayer meetings, though he is not formally attached with any church.
A day later, the survivor informed his mother, a teacher and some friends about the incident. As the accused continued to follow the survivor after the first incident, the survivorâ€™s mother asked a group of neighbourhood youth to escort her son on his return from school.
â€śJohnson continued to follow the child every day after the incident, had been trying to catch his attention through gestures. This made the child scared,â€ť Aryanad Sub Inspector S Badusha told TNM.
On Saturday, when the accused attempted to make contact with the survivor again, the group of people escorting him caught Johnson and handed him over to the police.
â€śIt was they who informed us and handed over him to us. The accused has been arrested under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO),â€ť the SI added.
What families should do in cases of sexual assault
While the recent rise in the number of reported child sexual abuse cases in Kerala indicates that there is growing awareness about the crime, police officials and activists warn that the actual numbers could be still higher than what is reported.
In many cases, children do not tell their families about these incidents. In many others, parents do not heed their childrenâ€™s complaints, or hush up the matter as they fear a loss of reputation. But this only paves the way for the possibility of sustained abuse.
It is important for parents to maintain a healthy channel of communication so that their children are willing to speak up about any such incidents without fear or shame. And parents should take such complaints seriously.
It is also important to involve the police, so that abusers can be arrested and punished by the law. Besides the jurisdictional police, parents can also approach Childline, who can bring in the police, besides providing support to the family.