In Walayar, near Palakkad district of Kerala, two sisters killed themselves after they were sexually assaulted. In Kannur district, a Christian priest is arrested after a girl he raped delivered a baby in a Church-run hospital in Koothuparamba. In Wayanad children of an orphanage were sexually assaulted by a few people who were running shops near the orphanage. An actor was abducted and sexually attacked by goons in Kochi two weeks ago. The list of sexual assault cases reported in a month in Kerala does not end here. There are other instances also which can find a place in the list.
Of course, all these incidents did not get the same kind of media attention. While the actor abduction case hogged the headlines of media for days, the tragic death of two sisters did not even find a mention in the media till it was brought to light through social media.
The way police under Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan acted in sexual assault cases raises serious questions. In the Walayar case, when the elder one of the two sisters of a Dalit family found dead, the way police hushed up the case raised serious questions on the justice delivery system.
Despite circumstantial evidence and the postmortem report which revealed that the girl was brutally raped before she killed herself, the police ignored the autopsy findings and did not take any steps to investigate the case. The same was the approach of the police under former UDF government when Jisha, another Dalit girl was brutally killed at the outskirts of Kochi in May last year. The Left Democratic Front, then in opposition used it for their electoral benefits. Eight months down the line the approach of the Kerala Police has not changed as has been proved by the lethargic attitude of the Walayar police. If the police had taken action after the tragic death of the elder child of the Dalit family, the death of younger sister Saranya could have been avoided. Police had arrested a close relative of the family after Saranya’s death. After huge furore, the home department has ordered an inquiry to the police lapses in the case.
Father Robin Vadakkumcherry of St. Sebastian’s Church in Kottiyoor raped a minor. He tried to hush up the case by offering money to the victim’s family. And the hospital, which is managed by the Catholic Church from where the victim was admitted and later delivered also connived with the perpetrators to shift the baby to an orphanage under the Church. The case has once again brought to the fore Church’s ambivalence in dealing such sexual cases involving priests.
This incident was preceded by the abduction of the actor. The police has been investigating the case, but could not yet crack the conspiracy angle that is suspected in the case.
On Wednesday two children aged three and five were found sexually attacked in Aluva, the latest to the list of sexual cases that has been rising in recent times.
Though the government has categorically stated that the security of the women and children are its top priority, on the ground, the police seems to be clueless about what is happening. The pink police patrolling scheme the government introduced to ensure the safety of the women has also not fared well. Rather than providing security to the people, this special unit of the police is blamed for moral policing.
The continuous occurrence of sexual assaults have become a major source of embarrassment for the Pinarayi Vijayan government. When the actor was abducted the CPI (M) and the government tried to play down the incident as isolated. But within two weeks, the Chief Minister has to issue a statement saying that serious measures will be taken to ever increasing attacks against women and children.