Man held for torturing house-help in Kochi; wife and women's rights activist absconding

Paul Pavothithara
POCSO charges levelled against Paul Pavothithara for allegedly abusing the survivor since she was 14.

A Kochiite, Paul Pavothithara, was arrested on POCSO charges for allegedly abusing his house-help for years. The accused's wife, Celine Paul, who is reportedly the chairperson of the Edappally Women's Welfare Committee, is absconding.

The incident came to light after the survivor sought refuge in a neighbour's house with a bleeding nose. Based on the woman's statement, the police arrested Paul.

It is understood that the house-help, a native of Karnataka, was brought to Kochi by Celine in 2015, when she was 14.

The survivor said that she was sold by her father and stepmother after her mother's death. As per her statement, her father tortured her mother to death.

"I had to do all work at the house. I was also sexually abused," she said. Celine reportedly blamed her after she was informed about the abuse.

Paul had a catering business and the woman was forced to work there. Besides, she was also made to work at the house of Paul's daughter.

It is understood that she had tried to escape several times but in vain. She reportedly has no Aadhaar card and neither was she vaccinated for COVID, the locals said.

How she realised her rights and sought help
The woman happened to hear a speech on Women's Day about the rights of women, ironically from Celine herself.

She realised her rights only then. That is when she decided to reach out to the neighbours.

Even though the neighbours informed Celine about the complaints, it is understood that she refused to respond until they threatened to go to the police.

Paul has been remanded while it is understood that Celine has moved for anticipatory bail.

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