Recent data, released by the Kerala State Crime Records Bureau (SCRB) suggest that there has been a steady increase in crimes against children in Kerala in recent years. However, the government officials contend that the rising numbers only reflect an increase in the reporting of incidents. The social workers on the other hand maintain, that there has been an actual increase in incidents of crime against children.
A decadal comparison of data shows that 549 offences against children under all categories were recorded in 2008, while the number shot up to 3,278 as of October, 2018. This includes both serious and other offences. Cases of rape rose from 215 in 2008 to 1,101 in 2017, and 999 in the first 10 months of 2018. There were noticeable spurts in the number of recorded rape cases in 2011, touching 423, compared to 208 a year earlier. A similar trend of increases was noted in 2013, 2016 and 2017, over the preceding year.
“Unlike other States, there is increased awareness in Kerala about the crimes against children and greater reporting of such crimes is reflected in the statistics,” said Tomin J. Thachankary, Additional DGP, SCRB. Cases of murder of children, however, dropped from 37 in 2008 to 18 in 2018. There have been no infanticide cases over the past three years, after four cases in 2015.
There was a single instance of trafficking of a minor girl last year, an improvement over all other years including the base year of 2008, when there were 13 cases. But cases registered under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act rose from four in 2008 to 17 in 2017 and 15 till October 2018.
Sheeba George, Director of Women and Child Development Department, said while increased reporting might have resulted in a higher number of cases, crimes against children had risen over the years.
Nirish Antony, Senior Programme Coordinator of Childline, said vacations were the time when children were found to be most vulnerable. “A pre-vacation awareness class could be held for students and parents,” he said.