The state was recently rocked by the alleged abduction and harassment of a noted South Indian actress by a gang near Kochi.
According to the state police's provisional crime statistics, of the total rape cases, women were victims in 1,644 incidents while children in 924 reported cases across the state in 2016, compared to 1,263 and 720 in 2015 respectively.
Of the total crimes against women and children, 14,061 were against women and 2,899 against children, it said.
The number of cases registered under Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act (POCSO) during the period was 2,093, it said. Besides rape, other crimes against women, including molestation, kidnapping, dowry death and cruelty by husbands/relatives, also showed an upward trend last year.
Expressing concern over the alarming figures, Minister for Social Justice and Health, KK Shylaja said the state government was committed to taking stern action against those who attack women and children.
"The government will act tough in the cases of atrocities against women and children and do all possible things to ensure justice to victims and award stringent punishment to culprits," she told PTI.
"The state home department is already making strong interventions to report and register such cases at the earliest. The cases will be framed in a flawless manner to ensure utmost punishment to the culprits," the minister said.
Efforts would also be taken to improve facilities at courts to ensure speedy trials in such cases, she said.
The minister also said the Department of Social Justice is getting ready to launch a 24x7 helpline for the support of women in view of increasing atrocities and harassment against them.
"We are planning several programmes to empower women and equip them to fight against harassment. As part of this, the Kerala State Women's Development Corporation under the Department of Social Justice will soon launch a helpline. Itsoperations will begin at IT hub Technopark here first and will be extended to other parts later," Shylaja said.
Detailing other programmes of the government to help harassment victims, the minister said it has already announced interim relief for sex crime victims, both children and adults, and steps are already on to induct more women in the police force to make the investigations more women-friendly.
Governor P Sathasivam, in his policy address in the state Assembly last week, had announced a slew of women-friendly measures of CPI(M)-led LDF government including launch of a 'sex offenders register', a first such in the country which would contain all identification details of sex offenders.
According to the statistics, the highest number of crimes against women, including rape, was reported last year from northern district of Malappuram, where there were as many as 1406 cases under various categories.
The total number of rape cases reported from Malappuramwas 160, followed by Thiruvananthapuram rural (138) and Ernakulam rural (112), it said.
Malappuram also witnessed highest number of cases in terms of molestation (275) and cruelty by husbands and other relatives (436), the statistics added.
The police figures also showed a steady increase in the crimes against women and children in the state in the last nine years.
The total number of crimes reported against women was 9,381 in 2007, 9,706 in 2008, 9,354 in 2009, 10,781 in 2010, 13,279 in 2011, 13,002 in 2012, 13,783 in 2013, 13,880 in 2014 and 12,383 in 2015, it said.
As many as 549 crimes against children were reported under various heads in the state in 2008, which rose to 589 in 2009, 596 in 2010, 1,452 in 2011, 1,324 in 2012, 1,877 in 2013, 2,286 in 2014 and 2,394 in 2015, it said.
On the alleged abduction and molestation of the actress, Shylaja said mere awareness classes and campaigns would not bring any change in the mindset of people but the need of the hour is the involvement of men and women in social activities.
"Films and television programmes influence people to a large extent. Visuals and dialogues, ill-treating women, should be regulated in such media. Public and civil society should take the responsibility to check the insulting of women and children in films and TV serials," she said.
People should also be ready to report every minute incident of harassment of women and children to the law enforcers, the minister added.
The incident of abduction and alleged molestation of the young actress had evoked widespread condemnation.
The prime accused in the case, 'Pulsar' Suni and his accomplice V P Vijeesh were arrested following high drama in the premises of a local court complex in Kochi on Thursday.