As many as 12,332 chlld sexual abuse cases are pending for final adjudication in Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) special courts in Odisha with the coastal State ranked fifth nationally as far as pendency of cases in these special courts.
In the States and the union territories, the pendency of such cases till 31 January, 2022 runs to 2,26,728. The cases awaiting verdict in Odisha constitute 5.43% of total cases pending across the country.
The States of Uttar Pradesh (60,729), Maharashtra (30,677) West Bengal (19,649) and Bihar (14,089) account for higher pendency of POSCO cases than Odisha, said an official on Friday.
The conviction rate in POCSO) Act crimes in Odisha stood lowly at 15.7% while the State reported 2,202 cases in 2000.
Of the 2,202 cases registered, 2086 offences were charge-sheeted and sent for trial. As many as 2,379 accused persons were arrested during the period, while 35 held for commission of POCSO offences were convicted.
The trials in a total of 223 cases were completed with a rate of conviction at 15.7%. The conviction ratio in the State is on a lower side in comparison to the majority of other States in the country.
The coastal State has been witnessing consistent rise in the cases of sexual offences against children. About 2,202 children faced sexual harassment in the State in 2020 as compared to 2,124 in 2019. The crime rate of such offences also increased from 14.5 pc in 2019 to 15.3 pc in 2020. During a year when children had to be online for educational purposes due to shutdowns, cyber crimes also rose. Odisha reported 71 cases and was among the top 10 states.
On the other hand, the overall crime against women (CAW) increased by 9.94 percent, contributing 6.89 percent to the total crime against women in the country, according to the latest findings of National Crime Bureau Record (NCRB).
However senior police officials claimed that the crime against women cases has increased due to the reporting of more cases in the State.
The government has put in place various policy provisions to eliminate gender-based violence. It has set up women and children cells at district-level police headquarters as well. It has been making efforts to ensure that existing schemes, such as One Stop Centres and Emergency Response Support System, remain operational. Similarly, the state has set up a ‘fast track special court’ scheme under National Mission of Safety for Women, to dispose of several pending rape cases of women and children below 12 years, the officials however claim.