On April 28, a minor girl was reportedly molested by an Assistant Sub Inspector in an elevator in Kochi and a case was registered under the Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. However, the accused was only arrested three weeks later, on May 21.
On May 13, another police official in Malappuram was suspended for failing to act promptly in a case of child abuse when a 60-year-old man sitting in a theatre was accused of sexually abusing a minor girl. The incident happened on April 18, and the people working in the theatre handed over the footage to the District Childline officials a day later, who immediately informed the police. However, the case was taken up only after a television channel aired the CCTV visuals.
The two recent incidents reveal how cases of child abuse are not taken seriously enough in Kerala.
An RTI filed by Advocate DB Binu revealed that 2,266 complaints related to child rights violations are left unresolved in the state between March 2013 and March 2018.
A breakdown of the numbers also shows that the pending cases are increasing every year. While there were just four cases pending in 2014-15, the number increased to 56 in 2015-16 and shot up to 758 in 2016-17.
In 2017-18, the number of cases pending is 1,448.
The RTI further revealed that out of the 7,484 cases registered in the Commission since its formation, only 5,128 have been resolved.
Thiruvananthapuram, the state capital, tops the list with 1677 cases registered and 540 cases left unresolved.
Meanwhile there are 248 cases left unresolved in Kollam district and 171 in Ernakulam district.
Binu alleged that the Commission is not functioning properly and that the Governor should intervene immediately. â€śThe Commissionâ€™s acting chairman is drawing a salary of around Rs 1,77,000. And the other four members are drawing salary ranging between Rs 1,25,000 and Rs 1,77,000. This is a white elephant for the state,â€ť Binu said.
The Commission's Acting Chairman, too, admitted that the number of cases of child abuse were high. â€śWe are getting more such complaints from Thiruvananthapuram, Kozhikode, Kollam and Malappuram because people there are more aware about children's rights and come forward with complaints,â€ť CJ Antony, the Acting Commission Chairman, was quoted as saying.
"We have been doing our best to dispose of the maximum number of complaints with available resources. After hearing every complaint, we are forwarding it to the government recommending action,â€ť he said.
Meanwhile, Father PD Thomas, Head of Don Bosco Childline in Thiruvananthapuram, said that there was a lack of members in the Commission and that would be one of the reasons that cases are piling up unresolved. â€śDuring the previous government term, the number of members were six. They used to take care of two or three districts. But in this present Commission, the numbers are only four,â€ť he said.
He further added that it was not just enough to accept cases but also important to do a detailed probe, prepare a report and send it to concerned departments. He said that property and family disputes are also sent to the Commission at times. "There is no big surprise in seeing the hike in numbers. However, the Commission should fill the gaps and be more efficient in resolving cases,â€ť he said.