The DGP was referring to complaints over POCSO cases filed against tribal youths who get married to girls younger than 18 according to their customs.

Concerns over POCSO on tribal youth following customs will be taken seriously Kerala DGP
news Law Sunday, January 19, 2020 - 16:56

After a mega adalat of the Kerala Police Department on Saturday, state police chief Loknath Behera assured attendees that complaints over slapping of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) cases against tribal youths who get married to girls younger than 18 will be taken seriously.

“Tribals get married before they turn 18, according to their traditions and customs. The police have registered POCSO cases against them in some instances. We will take this up seriously and consider the concerns appropriately. To solve the issue, an amendment to the existing laws is needed,” Behera told media after the Adalat.

A few years ago there were huge protests in Wayanad against the slapping of POCSO cases against tribal youths. Among tribal communities like Paniya and Kattunayaka, women who start menstruating have the right to live with the man they like after a traditional marriage. Many times the bride would be underage. In many instances, the police file suo motu cases and arrest the husband who would end up in jail on rape charges, while his wife and children struggle to make ends meet.

“Until a few years ago, Wayanad recorded the most number of POCSO cases. Then the district POCSO court judge and a few other officials were completely against tribals and showed no relaxation in dealing with POCSO cases against them. Now the situation has changed a bit. There is a committee appointed by the district administration, which enquires about tribal marriages and takes measures to avoid POCSO in genuine cases,” PG Hari, an activist who had led protests on the issue, told TNM.

Hari, however, said that while relaxing POCSO charges, the police should make sure that both the bride and groom in such marriages should be tribals. “The DGP should take the issue seriously but at the same time the police should ensure that it is not used as a loophole to harass tribal girls,” he added.

During the adalat, Behera said that an apex body of senior officials from various departments would coordinate to solve issues of the tribals in Wayanad.

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