Sex offence cases shows the trend of luring school girls to flesh trade

If one peruses the recent list of sexual offence cases, ‘catch them young’ seems to be the motto of sexual predators in the state. Recent cases registered under POSCO act (Protection of Children from Sexual Offense Act) shows a trend that anti-socials are luring girls of age gap 12-15, to flesh trade. According to the data from the Police, around 1139 cases were registered under POSCO act in Kerala in 2015

And, all cases had a definite pattern. The recent gang-rape case in Adoor in which two schoolgirls were sexually assaulted by a group of youngsters also revealed the presence of some gangs around schools that lured girls into the flesh trade.

Senior officers attached to state police said that gangs were operating in several major cities and the police had credible info about them harassing innocent children.

After identifying the operation of a couple of such gangs near a prominent school in a southern district, the police have assigned two plainclothes women constables to keep a watch. They interact with students and teachers and gather info.

A lady officer who is assigned on the same mission described the gangs’ modus operandi. “These middle-aged men often visit the bus stops in proximity to the schools. Later, they lure girls by gifting jewellery, gadgets like mobile phones and pocket money. And finally, these girls unknowingly fall prey to the flesh trade,” she added.

“We are acting, but, not like dealing with any other crime. The racket will be busted, but, it may take some time,” said the officer.

Police say that the presence of forums like the `student police cadet groups’ (SPC) could have thwarted such cases.

“The students who are part of SPC are conducting awareness drive through various media. The practice is much effective than any other method because of the age group,” said DIG P Vijayan who was the architect of the project.

“As per our knowledge, strangers attract the schools by acting as Romeos. They used to spend time with girls, near the schools, bus stops and even nearby cafes. We stage street plays, perform dance and other art forms to spread awareness on such deadly issues. We are even trained to physically deal with such anti-socials in case of emergency,” said  Athira M, a student police cadet.

DIG also added that the state police are also conducting a counseling session for the school girls, who are suspected to be fallen prey to the flesh trade.

Crime branch IG S Sreejith, who heads the anti-human trafficking operations, said such crimes fall under `deceptive trafficking’. “In Kerala, obvious trafficking cases are very rare, which means criminals fear the law. Hence, perpetrators resort to devious methods like luring and enticing small girls for trafficking,” he said.

The police are already planning a rigorous campaign drive to tackle this menace. “One of the initiatives being planned is forming anti-human trafficking clubs in all schools and colleges to spread awareness among students,” said the officer.

Sunitha Krishnan, a child rights activist and also co-founder of NGO, Prajwala, pointed that the anti-socials involving in sex racket take photographs of these school girls to use it in social media websites. “The facebook page, ‘Kochu Sundarikal’ (little, pretty girl as it was named in Malayalam) was in reality a den of pedophiles, with most people commenting in Malayalam. Every single post had pictures of young girls, mostly school-going teens. She said some of the images shockingly included a note by the group administrator, asking: “What would you like to do to her?”