A 17-year-old girl from Kerala has been allegedly sexually abused and harassed by more than 30 men over the past few months, police said, adding that seven rape cases have been filed based on her accounts since 2016. Some of the accused in this case are believed to be known to the girl and her mother. The mother claims she was unaware of the incidents; she will be questioned, cops said.
In November, the teenager from Malappuram was traced by the police after her mother had filed a missing complaint from Palakkad, about 330 km from state capital Thiruvananthapuram. Officials said the girl was rescued within two days of the complaint being registered.
The survivor is now at a care home where she told the officials about the alleged abuse she faced in the last few months during counselling. "There are 29 cases registered based on the teenager's statement since November. Of these, four are rape cases," Malappuram District Police Chief Abdul Karim U told NDTV.
After the girl was allegedly raped in 2016, she briefly stayed at a children's home before she went back to her mother. She was allegedly sexually abused again in 2017 and was allowed to leave the children's home after a span of two years to be with her mother, based on the mother's request.
"There are a total of 40 accused based on the survivor's statements since 2016. Twenty have already been arrested, of which 15 are out on bail. Five accused are in remand. Seven rape cases have been registered," Mr Karim said.
"Most of the accused in this case are known to the girl and her mother. The mother claims she did not know about these incidents but this needs further probe. Some of the accused in these cases are even their neighbours. After she went missing, she was traced in Palakkad and the men have been arrested," Pandikkad Inspector Mohammad Haneefa said.
"The girl is in Class 12 but the classes are being conducted online. The mother works outside during the day. Some of the crime locations have been neighbours' houses. Action against most of the accused was taken swiftly," Inspector Haneefa added.
The Child Welfare Committee claims they had taken all legal and logical steps to ensure the safety of the child, when she was released from the Child Home, about a year ago. "The decision was taken by our five-member committee and in consultation with the Child Protection Officer. This was done in tune with the Juvenile Justice Act, which says institutionalising a POCSO survivor should be the last priority."
"They are supposed to be sent out with their parents to ensure their protection as well as enabling restoration to society," Shajesh Basker, CWC chief in Malappuram told news agency PTI.