The number of cases registered under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act for molestation and rape charges saw a 17 percent rise in the first nine months of this year than the corresponding figures of 2020. Moreover, only the rape incidents in the case of minors increased by 25 percent, revealed recent data released by the Mumbai Police.
According to the data, from January to September, 408 cases of rape under the POCSO Act were registered this year, while the corresponding figure for the previous year was 309. Mumbai Police detected 388 cases this year and 278 cases were detected last year. A similar pattern of rising in the number of molestation cases registered under the POCSO Act was noticed with 323 cases recorded this year in comparison to the last year's figure of 292.
After the formulation of the Act in 2012, the city has seen a year-on-year increase in the number of POCSO cases registered. The spurt is especially due to children confiding in their parents after receiving ground-level training from police trainers under the "Police Didi", constant training, and dialogue initiatives at schools and other institutions.
In a report published by Praja Foundation last year, it was found that in 97 percent of the POCSO rape cases, offenders were known to the victim. Meanwhile, in 54 percent of cases, rape offenders were friends who committed crimes on the pretext of marriage, while 21 percent of cases were of other known offenders.
Amongst the reasons given for such a rise, a senior police official attributed it to the increased social awareness on the issue. The officer stated that the gender-neutral law has also expanded the definition of sexual abuse to include more forms of abuse. A recent report published by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) also stated that Mumbai was one of the top five cities which reported the most number of POCSO cases with 922.
Similarly, Mumbai also earned the title of the second-highest number of crimes against children in 2020 with 2,200 cases, after Delhi which had the highest at 5,256. Dr. Ali Gabhrani, a child psychologist said, "Children, who went through the sexual abuse during this lockdown faced severe depression as they could neither express their feelings to anyone and suppression led to a catastrophe. Once the child’s emotional and mental stability is murdered, it is a long way for them to recover, while being in the same environment."
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