Actual cases of sexual abuse are reported less relatively due to societal concerns.
Bengaluru saw a 42 percent increase in the number of Protection Of Children From Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) cases in the last 12 months, from 206 to 293, according to National Crime Records Bureau(NCRB) data. A study by Vidhi Center for Legal Policy found that in 40 percent of POCSO cases the accused are friends or romantic partners of victims.
Khushi Khushalappa, head of Support and Rehabilitation Team Enfold emphasizes that since there is no provision for consensual sexual relationships, a lot of teenagers get booked under the act. “Children as young as 13 and 14 are engaging in sexual relationships, and if they knew they were committing a crime, they would probably not engage in such activities.” She emphasizes on the need for a sustainable sex-education programme where children can be reminded that sex under 18 is a crime.
Rescue expert, Father Verghese at Bangalore Oniyavara Seva Coota(BOSCO) asserts that children should be provided a safe-environment to talk about sex and in case they face sexual violence they should be able to share it with a trusted adult. He also says that there is a need for stricter conviction procedures in case of sexual abuse on a child.
The police on the other hand mention about the cases which don’t get reported. Divisional Commissioner of Police, South-East Bangalore, says “Sexual exploitation by close relatives, family members or even friends of friends are taken back or never reported due to the fear of getting highlighted and oftentimes being threatened.” The Law Commission of India, in a report on the age of consent, said that it was not advisable to tinker with the age of consent and hence should be retained to 18, as it might affect actual cases of sexual abuse and child marriage. But the report recommends judicial discretion in cases of consent.