Minister orders probe into sexual abuse of minor

Minister for Women and Child Development K.K. Shylaja has directed the Director, Department of Women and Child Development, to investigate and submit report in a case in which a 60-year-old man sexually abused his foster child in Kannur.

The Director will also inquire whether the former Child Welfare Committee, Ernakulam, which released the child, was at fault.

The Minister’s directive came in the wake of widespread criticism against the Child Welfare Committee for failing to follow proper procedures while allowing the child to go into foster care. The victim was at a children’s home in Ernakulam and was sent into foster care in 2015.

The police had arrested a native of Vaniyapara in Irrity last Saturday on the charge of raping and impregnating the foster child and his wife on Sunday for hiding the crime.

The incident came to light when the victim’s sister divulged the matter to the Child Welfare Committee, Ernakulam, during a counselling session.

The Koothaparamba police, who are investigating the case, said the Child Welfare Committee had failed to carry out proper follow-up to ensure the safety and security of the child. The rules say that a child left in custody must be counselled every month, but it was not enforced here.

Police sources told The Hindu that the accused approached the Child Welfare Committee and took the girl home by concealing the fact that he had been married thrice and had three children from the relationship.

The accused has been living in Kandamkunnu, near Koothuparamba, with his third wife for the past eight years.

The victim was sexually abused and became pregnant, which forced her to discontinue her study for over a year.

The police said that she was taken to a hospital in Thalassery and to a clinic in Mattanur with the help of the foster mother.

The doctors refused to abort the child. The police said that they then adopted traditional methods and made her do difficult jobs to abort the child.

However, later in 2019, the Child Welfare Committee, Kannur, based on the victim’s request, shifted her to a government shelter home after she refused to live with her foster parents.

Sisley Joseph, chairperson in charge of the Child Welfare Committee, Kannur, said the victim had not revealed any details even two years after she moved to the shelter home.

“We took her case from the Child Welfare Committee, Ernakulam, as she was studying in Kannur. However, during counselling she refused to reveal the reasons for not staying in foster care.”

Ms. Joseph said that they did not allow the victim to go with the foster parents, despite they approaching them several times.

The details of abuse were revealed after she shared them with her sister, who is in a children’s home in Ernakulam.

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