New Delhi, Dec 12 (PTI): Of the 7,064 POCSO judgments between 2016 and 2020 from Assam, Maharashtra, and West Bengal, 1,715 cases (24.3 per cent) involved ‘romantic relationships’, according to a new analysis.
Enfold Proactive Health Trust, with support from UNICEF India, analysed the 1,715 judgments by Special Courts in Assam, Maharashtra, and West Bengal that entailed an express reference to a romantic relationship between the victim and the accused.
In the majority of cases – 1,058 or 61.7 per cent the Special Court expressly concluded that the relationship between the accused and the girl was consensual in nature or that they were having a ‘love affair’.
This included 131 cases (7.6 per cent) where the Special Court concluded that the relationship was romantic, but it was denied by the girl or she was silent about it, it said.
Of the 7,064 judgments under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act registered between 2016 and 2020 and available on e-courts from Assam, Maharashtra, and West Bengal, 1,715 (24.3 per cent) were ‘romantic’ cases, it said.
Informants in ‘romantic’ cases were predominantly the parents (70.8 per cent) and relatives (9.4 per cent) of the girls who together constituted 80.2 per cent of the informants. Girls were informants in 18.3 per cent cases.
The research was initiated in May 2021 and completed by April 2022.
The quantitative and qualitative analysis of the judgments was undertaken to gain an in-depth understanding of the manner in which ‘romantic’ cases enter the criminal justice system, the profile of informants and ‘victims’, nature of charges applied in such cases, and the trends in testimony of the ‘victims’ and its correlation with the outcomes.
The analysis also focuses on the diverse approaches taken by the Special Courts in such cases, particularly their views on ‘consent’ by minors.
In 314 cases (18.3 per cent), girls lodged the complaint in a ‘romantic case’, for reasons such as the accused’s refusal or breach of promise to marry the girl (155 cases), and forced sex or kidnapping in 154 cases.
Other factors included pressure from family or community to lodge a case (52 cases); sexual harassment, which included stalking by the accused (24 cases), and other forms of violence (14 cases).
The report said 1,113 girls (64.9 per cent) ‘left home’ with their partner or to be with their partner. The reasons that prompted the girls to leave included parental disapproval of the relationship (280 cases), arrangement of a marriage against their will (113 cases) and violence or threat of violence at home (65 cases).
In 1,508 cases (87.9 per cent), the girl admitted to being in a romantic relationship with the accused, either during the investigation stage or evidence stage, or both.
In 578 cases (33.7 per cent), the girl’s family and in 170 cases (9.9 per cent), the prosecution presented to the court that the girl and the accused were having a ‘love affair’.