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Kerala Police act swiftly, arrest man accused of sexually abusing child with autism

The police in Kerala have come in for praise for acting quickly to ensure justice to a 10-year-old child with autism who was allegedly abused in school. Just a few weeks ago, the child's parents had alleged that their son was abused by his maths teacher inside school in Thiruvananthapuram. School authorities refused to take action, forcing the parents to file a police complaint. That's the focus on #StoryOfTheWeek.

When Aarav* (name changed) adamantly refused to go to school, his mother Renjini PK was taken aback. A visit to the therapist uncovered the shocking reason. Aarav told the therapist he was being sexually abused by his maths teacher inside school.

Renjini took the matter up with the school officials and complained about the alleged accused, Santosh. She got a cold shoulder and that's when she decided to file a case with the city police. Santosh disappeared and the police were seen to be going slow. Renjini persisted and thanks to her relentless efforts, Santosh was arrested this week, on 26 August.

Renjini and her family moved to the Kerala capital from their hometown in Kannur a few months ago as they wanted to give Aaarav better education. When she reported the incident she found herself isolated as few parents in the school backed her. When some parent support groups got to know, they decided to lend her a helping hand.

Getting the police to act was not easy at first forcing Renjini to approach the Police Commissioner.

Initially, I was reluctant to reveal the identity of my son. But after a point I realised that we were not getting justice and decided to reveal his identity. But that was not required because the city police commissioner demanded that the accused be arrested and taken into custody at the earliest. - Renjini PK, Aarav's Mother.

Renjini had already filed a case with the Kerala State Commission for Protection of Child Rights and Kerala State human Rights Commission. A medical test was conducted on Aarav to ascertain that he was sexually harassed. But the cops rejected that and a second test was done on 20 August in the presence of Dr Indu Nair of Peroorkada Hospital and Aarav's therapist Priyanka. The panel confirmed that the child had been abused.

"Initially the police said there are differences in Aarav's statements and they cannot record them as he has autism", says Renjini. "But my son clearly told them even colour of the socks that the accused was wearing. What more proof do they need? Apparently, the accused had been blackmailing my son saying that if he talks about the harassment to anyone, he would kill me. That is why he was keeping quiet", she says.

Aarav's parents know that their real struggle has just begun after nabbing the accused. "In spite of all the hardships, I am sure that we will get justice. Our journey has just started. But we will not give up until the accused is put behind bars and punished for what he did to my son", says Renjini.

Seema Lal, Co-founder of TogetherWeCan (TWC), a parent support group that backed Renjini says the incident should encourage more parents to speak out in similar situations.

"More power to parents like Renjini who broke the silence and fear in spite of extreme challenges", says Seema. "She stood strong despite all opposition and followed through all the petitions with authorities. The issue got timely and much needed visibility. We hope the child will be able to resume school and move on. Hope this gives strength to more parents who think that they are fighting losing battles. More people must step forward and stand up for what is right".

ALSO READ: Alleged sexual harassment of child with autism in Kerala highlights need for tougher rules

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