Ensure rigiourous implementation of POCSO Act, says HRW

Ensure rigiourous implementation of POCSO Act, says HRW

Ensure rigiourous implementation of POCSO Act, says HRW

Recent rape of a six-year-old girl in a Bangalore school has 'refocused' attention on sexual abuse of children in India, a human rights body said, and demanded immediate and rigourous implementation of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act from the government.

"The rape of a six-year-old girl at a school in Bangalore has refocused attention on sexual abuse of children in India. India's central and state governments should take immediate steps to implement the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012," Human Rights Watch said in a statement today.

The rights body said under the Act, for the first time, all forms of child sexual abuse were specific criminal offense.

The law also establishes important guidelines for the police and courts to deal with victims sensitively and provides for creating special courts to handle these cases, HRW added.

"The provisions have contributed to increased reporting of child rape cases across the country. According to National Crime Records Bureau, 12,363 cases of alleged child rape were reported in 2013, compared with 8,541 in 2012," an increase of 45 per cent, the statement said.

The July 2014 attack in Bangalore follows several highly publicised incidents of sexual abuse of children in schools, alternative care institutions, and family settings.

In May, villagers protested after two teenage girls from a marginalised community in the northern Indian village of Badaun were found hanging from a tree, allegedly gang-raped and murdered, it said.

"News reports of yet another horrific child sexual abuse case suggest that the Indian central and state authorities need to be doing more to protect children," said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch. 
"Child sexual abuse remains a serious problem despite a good law to address it. If the authorities are serious about protecting the country’s children, they should take immediate steps to implement a more effective system to rigorously monitor all government and private children’s institutions," Ganguly said.

She stressed that there should not be public protests for the authorities to vigorously enforce the new children protection law "to promptly investigate and prosecute people accused of sexually abusing children."

Stressing that the law is yet to be "effectively" implemented, HRW said that in the Bangalore case, the parents of the victim filed a police complaint in early July 2014.

However, delays in an investigation as a result of alleged police inaction, and public suspicions that the management of the prominent school was trying to keep the case quiet to cover up negligence, led thousands of parents to protest, beginning July 15.

Saying that children's sexual abuse cases go unreported due to institutional barriers that make reporting difficult, the rights body said, to prevent sexual abuse of children, state governments should draw up guidelines for schools and other educational institutions.

"The state authorities should also ensure that all institutions housing children are subject to regular and periodic inspections, and institute regulation of residential care facilities that includes independent and confidential interactions with children and staff, it said.

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