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Kerala assembly discusses women’s safety as abuse cases soar

Vijayan says government to take ‘strong measures’ to ensure women’s security in the state

Gulf News

Thiruvananthapuram: A series of incidents of abuse sparked dialogue on women’s safety in the Kerala assembly on Wednesday, which is celebrated around the world as International Women’s Day.

Speaking in response to an adjournment motion demanded by the opposition, United Democratic Front, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the government would take “strong measures” to ensure women’s security in the state.

He said a list of sexual offenders would be prepared and kept in police stations, and senior police officials had been directed to collect a decade’s worth of data on such offenders.

Meanwhile, the day brought news of yet another case of child sex abuse in the state, the fourth in the past few days.

The latest case deals with residents of Binanipuram, in Aluva, where two girls aged seven and three were abused by their neighbour, a 52-year-old man. Police have taken the accused into custody and are questioning him.

The man is believed to have been close to the victims’ family and taken advantage of his proximity to abuse the minors.

Three other cases have shocked the state in recent days. In one, a Catholic priest, Robin Vadakkumcherry, 48, is accused of impregnating a 16-year-old schoolgirl who gave birth to a baby boy in February.

Vadakkumcherry has been arrested and is in prison. Seven others accused in the case, including five nuns, are absconding. Two of the accused are doctors. The Mananthavady diocese has officially apologised to the girl’s family for the abuse.

In another case, an 11-year-old girl was found hanging in her home in Walayar in Palakkad district in January, and on March 4 her nine-year-old sister was found hanging in the same room. Both children are believed to have been abused by a group that included a relative.

Their mother, Bhagyalakshmi, has reportedly told police that the children would not commit suicide and that she suspects they had been murdered. There have also been calls for action against policemen for not preventing the second tragedy after the mother had told them at the time of the first girl’s death that she had been abused.

In yet another case, as many as seven children in an orphanage at Kalpetta, in Wayanad district, were reportedly abused repeatedly by a group of men in the neighbourhood. The men had lured them into their shops with the offer of sweets, and after abusing them and taking photos, they reportedly blackmailed them with the threat of exposing those images in January.

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