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Use empirical figures while reporting on child abuse cases

There are human hurts caused by acts of deranged mind to another, which, at times, cannot fully be amended by normal legal safety measures. Yet, at the same time, one should not be so callous in stating to the public domain things that are false and could mislead readers to vilify the hard earned reputation of a State.

Some of the recent media reports, in particular, “Inconsistent legal actions in sexual abuse of minors: NCWC(Kuensel, April 30) and “OAG drops most child molestation cases” (Kuensel, May 12) are pertinent case in point. The headlines and their contents were not only false but mislead its readers to believe that the state machinery is insensitive to such fragile social issues and does not have in place a legal safety network to secure safety of our vulnerable children from being abused.

The credibility of those cited reports in the Kuensel must be considered from the empirical data on cases pertaining child molestations in the country.

Between 2014 to May 2018, OAG received 44 cases of child molestation related cases. Out of 44 cases, OAG initiated prosecution of 38 cases and only 6 cases were dropped due to dire want of at least circumstantial evidences to merit prosecution.

Out of 38 cases charged for child molestations, 23 were convicted. A few charges were altered for lesser offences by the courts, based on evidence adduced before the courts. Between 2014 and 2016, three defendants were acquitted and one received deferred judgment in 2015. The impressive conviction rate in child molestation cases is resultant to diligent review of each case by the Case Screening Corpus of OAG, instituted in 2016.

Considering the public interest in protecting our children from being molested or sexually abused in varying ways, OAG had purposefully relaxed its otherwise stringent evidentiary test requirement under OAG Act and considered charges by relying mostly on circumstantial evidences and victims’ statements.

There are multiple factors that compel each case to be treated differently and it would be a fallacy on the part of our community members to expect more consistent legal outcome than those empirical figures. No fact pattern of a case could be a replica of another without variance.

We urge both media, investigating agencies and stakeholders to use empirical figures while informing and reporting on such delicate subject matter so that the public is informed of nothing but the truths. We are fully aware that the mental health of our today’s children will cumulatively form the health and wellbeing state of our nation tomorrow.

Contributed by 

Office of the Attorney General 

Editor’s note – The OAG earlier told Kuensel that it had no data on child molestation cases 

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