The number of cases registered under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act for molestation and rape charges saw a 14 per cent spurt in the first five months of this year than the corresponding figures of 2020. Moreover, only the rape incidents in the case of minors increased by 32 per cent, revealed a recent data released by the Mumbai Police. Moreover, the lockdown period has also seen a rise in incidents of fathers sexually assaulting their children.
According to the data, from January to May, 234 cases of rape under the POCSO Act were registered this year, while the corresponding figure for the previous year was 158. Mumbai Police detected 205 cases this year and 137 cases were detected last year. There has been a slight dip, however, in the number of molestation cases registered under the POCSO Act as from 188 cases last year to 170 this year.
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" initiative. In a report published by Praja Foundation last year, it was found that, in 97 per cent of the POCSO rape cases, offenders were known to the victim. Meanwhile, in 54 per cent cases, rape offenders were friends who committed crimes on the pretext of marriage, while 21 per cent 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 law, which is gender neutral, has also expanded the definition of sexual abuse to include more forms of abuse. Recently, a number of cases have been reported wherein fathers have sexually assaulted their own daughters on several occasions, raising a suspicion on the safety of minors in their own homes.
Last month, a 38-year-old man was arrested by Andheri Police for allegedly raping and repeatedly sexually assaulting his 11-year-old daughter since March. In another incident at Malad, a teenager was repeatedly sexually assaulted by her father in Malad (E) in an inebriated state. The case was finally lodged when the teen's relatives learned about it and asked her to approach the police. The man was arrested by Kurar Police for raping his daughter and booked under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and POCSO Act.