This Article is From Feb 23, 2017

Kerala To Go Online To Name And Shame Sex Offenders

Kerala To Go Online To Name And Shame Sex Offenders

Under fire for Kerala actress abduction case, state announces measures to tackle crimes against women.

Thiruvananthapuram: Hoping to shame sexual offenders and alert their potential victims, the Kerala government will launch an online registry that will contain their identification details and will be accessible to the public.

"It will be the first in the country and will be kept in public domain," Governor P Sathasivam said in his speech on the opening day of the state assembly's session on Thursday. The Governor, who also announced quicker monetary relief for sexual assault survivors, ensuring presence of women police in the rural belt and recruiting more women in the police force.

The registry, the Governor said, would ensure deterrence linking a spike in sexual crimes to lack of social deterrence.

Well-known activist Sunitha Krishnan - who had suggested maintaining the online register to the state government - later told NDTV she was "humbled" at inclusion of the idea. "I have proposed the names of the offenders be made public for specific years, depending on the intensity of the crime," she said.

The bunch of initiatives to tackle crimes against women come against the backdrop of attacks on the ruling Left Front Government following the kidnaping and sexual assault of a leading south Indian actor in Kerala last week.

Minutes after the Governor ended his speech in the assembly, the police carried out a dramatic operation 200 km away to arrest the prime suspect, Pulsar Sunil, before he could surrender before a Kochi court.

But Kerala - contrary to what the government insists - isn't the first state to have an online registry to name and shame convicted sexual offenders.

The concept of a blacklist of sexual offenders has been doing the rounds for years but gathered momentum after the 2012 mid-December gang rape and torture of a 23-year-old paramedical student, dubbed Nirbhaya, in Delhi. The Union Home Ministry initially asked the National Crime Records Bureau to work on the plan but later decided to let the states handle it.

Delhi Police was the first off the blocks.

It culled out details of rapists convicted from 1983 onwards and put them out on its website. It later relaunched this facility.

Union Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi revived the demand for a national registry in 2015. Home Minister Rajnath Singh has agreed to implement once an ambitious project to link police stations and courts is complete.

Many countries across the world including Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States do have similar registries. But there is little evidence to suggest that it has deterred sex offenders.

Experts say what would make a real difference was certainty of arrest and a quick trial that ends in conviction. Nationwide, for every person convicted of a crime such as rape, two others are acquitted because the police either caught the wrong people or wasn't able to prove the case. In 2015 - the last year for which national crime statistics are available - only 131 people were convicted of rape in Kerala.