More clarity needed on NCRB’s data on crimes against children

Updated: August 21, 2015 10:36 IST

There is some confusion in reading and interpreting the data that NCRB has recorded under crimes against children, in the new format that it has employed this year.

Chennai: With the National Crime Records Bureau adopting a new methodology to report crimes against children, ostensibly more aspects have come into the country-wide listing, but a sense of confusion prevails if one explores the tables generated by the bureau.

The prime change has been in bringing to account the number of cases registered under Prevention of Sexual Offences against Children Act, a new law the implementation of which, according to many accounts is rather patchy through the country. However, awareness about POCSO is picking up, especially in Tamil Nadu, where IPC section 376 (Rape) is often read with Sec 4 of POCSO Act (penetrative sexual assault) in cases of sexual offences relating to children. There in lies some of the confusion.

While the number of rape cases are listed as 0 in Tamil Nadu, there are 4 cases listed under the category ‘assault on girl child with intent to outrage her modesty’, and a total of 1055 cases have been filed under the POCSO Act, and specifically, 487 cases under Section 4 of the Act – indicting that as many cases of penetrative sexual assault have been recorded. Thus it rankles that the figure for rape remains 0.

One way to confirm the actual incidence is to correlate the figures with the State Crime Records Bureau, but in this event, with a new format kicking in, there are no comparable models. The bureaus will do well to stabilise a format that will have a comprehensive listing of crimes against children, doing away with the inconsistencies.

What child rights activists have drawn attention to is the question of cases recorded under the section Kidnapping and Abduction. While the total number of cases has been recorded at 390, and the number of victims at 395, there is a subsection that these people look on with suspicion – Kidnap and abduction of women to compel her to marry. Under this category is listed a total number of 337 cases.

In yet another number it provides for rape, the NCRB records the number of rape cases (other than incest) at 381 for children 16 years and above, but below 18 years. It is suspected that a large number of these cases actually might be cases of elopement of minors, with cases registered possibly simultaneously under kidnap and abduction sections of the IPC and POCSO.

“We need to look at inter-personal relationships among the youth from a wider point of view. In many cases elopement is recorded as Kidnapping and Abduction of women. We should not be criminalising young romance,” says Vidya Reddy of Tulir – Centre for Prevention and Healing of Child Sexual Abuse.