Recurrence of POCSO cases against teacher exposes systemic failure

The booking of a physically challenged Government primary school teacher for the third time on the charge of sexually abusing his children in different schools in the district has exposed the State’s systemic failure in protecting the rights of the children.

Experts who handle children’s issues in the State, including Kerala State Commission for Protection of Child Rights member Nazeer Chaliyam, chorused that if the State had a strong policy or guideline, many primary children could have been saved from being abused by the same predator.

Mr. Nazeer told The Hindu that he had insisted on keeping aside the accused for longer periods from interacting with children in several cases of sexual abuse. “But what we seriously lack is a policy in this matter. As is practised elsewhere, including several Western countries, the accused person in such cases should not be allowed to interact with children any further,” he said.

Mr. Nazeer said the Government, especially the Education Department, should have a serious rethink its policy of reinstating teachers and other employees accused of sexually exploiting children.

Arun B. Nair, associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Government Medical College, Thiruvananthapuram, said studies had indicated that sexual abuse of boys in the State was much more than what had been reported, and that many cases were going undetected and unreported.

Dr. Arun, who had done several studies among children, said boys were becoming increasingly soft targets for sexual abuse. “In 80% of cases, we are having accidental discoveries. And sadly, in most cases, parents refuse to report fearing social stigma,” he said.

Although the State’s law enforcement system is good enough to handle recurrence of sexual abuse, some flaws in the existing system have been found to be leading to its recurrence. Dr. Arun said the teacher arrested under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act for the third time was a classic example. “In most other countries, he would not have been allowed to interact with the children again. Such abusers should be kept away from children,” said Dr. Arun.

Childline officials here said even if exonerated once, a teacher booked under POCSO for aggravated sexual offence should not be allowed to teach again. Instead, they can be accommodated in some other posts in offices where they do not get to interact with children, they said.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2022 8:46:36 PM |

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