Pocso Act fails as victims turn hostile

Pocso Act fails as victims turn hostile

Even after the enactment of the stringent Pocso (Protection of Children against Sexual Offences) Act, which came into force in January 2013, the conviction rate in sexual assault cases shows no increase.

Out of 56 cases tried in the City between 2013 and 2014 (October), a whopping 52 have ended in acquittal, due to strange reasons.

Sources in the Prosecution Directorate told Deccan Herald that in most of the cases victims turned hostile, resulting in acquittal.

“Around 140 cases were registered under Pocso Act in Bengaluru city police limits in the last two years. From January 2013, trial has been concluded in 56 cases till October 2014 and only four cases have ended in conviction. In most of the cases,  victims either turned hostile or have not appeared for trial,” a senior official in the directorate said.

Surprisingly, there is an increase of cases under Pocso Act involving victims from Below the Poverty Line (BPL) and social stigma is suspected to be the main reason for victims turning hostile.

“Pocso Act invariably comes into force when the victim is below the age of 18 years. As we have analysed, in such cases relating to poor families, the child will not be in the care of parents. Both the parents will be out on work, mostly daily wagers, and the child is sexually assaulted while in the custody of others. The victims in majority of such cases are hesitant to face the trial,'' the officer said.

The cases which have ended in conviction are the ones registered at Jnanabharathi, Banashankari, HAL and Pulakeshinagar police stations, the officer said. Director of Prosecution K Ramanna said that in sexual assault cases, victims’ deposition plays an important role.

“We have formulated some reasons for low conviction rate under Pocso Act. The cases can end up in conviction if victims don’t turn hostile,” he said.

Former chairperson of Child Welfare Committee Meena Jain said that lack of legal aid with a sensitive approach has also resulted in poor conviction rate.

“In many cases a close relative will be the abuser. Such victims are somehow convinced to turn hostile in the interest of their future. In cases of elopement too, victims and parents are hesitant to take part in the trial. In my opinion all the cases that have ended in acquittal needed to be analysed to find out the remedial measures. This apart, constant interaction with the victim till the case reaches the trial stage is also important to help victims overcome social stigma,”' she said.

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