CWC criticises response of police, DWCD

Even though more than 50 cases of sexual abuse of children have been reported to the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) in the district, this number may represent only five per cent of total sexual abuse incidences, said Asha Nayak, CWC Chairperson here on Monday.

At the meeting of the district committee against trafficking of women and children, Ms. Nayak said the cases of sexual abuse were “growing at a rapid rate”.

This was confirmed by Childline (1098), which said complaints about sexual harassment formed the bulk of the calls received by the helpline.

The police came in for some criticism for their handling of these cases as well as divulging sensitive details to the media. “The names of the children and other identifying details such as addresses are all leaked to the media. They even come up in the official blogs of the police,” said Ms. Nayak. Admitting to past mistakes, a police officer said gate-keeping of the contents in the blog was being made more stringent.

The CWC Chairperson further said officials of the Department of Woman and Child Development (DWCD) do not produce rescued children or bring to the notice of the committee cases of dropouts. “They do not follow the procedure laid down in the Juvenile Justice Act. Even when we take up a case, they do not respond to our notices or appear during our sessions. Officials do not respect the CWC,” she said at the meeting.

Dropouts on the rise

Apart from sexual harassment, Childline officials said complaints of school dropouts were on the rise, especially in Bantwal and Belthangady taluks. Out of the 172 calls received by the organisation in January this year, 54 involved children having dropped out of government schools. “Most calls are from the minority community. We counselled around 20 children to return to school,” said a Childline representative. Poverty and lack of understanding or interest of the school curriculum were commonly cited reasons for student drop outs, he said.

With the helpline receiving 2,000 calls through last year, Deputy Commissioner A.B. Ibrahim, who chaired the meeting, said this represented less than one call per gram panchayat monthly.

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