Other States

Child Welfare Committee kept in dark over child sexual abuse

Anand, a 23-year-old man, was arrested in connection with the sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl here on Saturday.

He had sexually assaulted the 14-year-old in March, when the girl was visiting her relatives. The victim, who is staying at an orphanage, was then threatened by the assailant not to disclose the incident. However, when she went to visit her relatives again, she told them about the case when he approached her again for sexual favours, the police said.

The girl was then accompanied by activists to file a case with the Ariyankuppam police. The case was filed under Section 4 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, which is for penetrative sexual assault. The punishment under Section 4 is not less than seven years and up to life imprisonment. The assaulter is liable to face a fine as well. Upon interrogation, Anand had admitted to the crime, the police said.

This is the first case in Puducherry that has been filed under Section 4, and there were two other cases - one in Lawspet and one in Netapakkam that were filed under section 8 (sexual assault), the police said.

The victim is currently undergoing medical examination at the Women and Child hospital.

Under the POCSO, all cases that are filed under the Act need to be reported to the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) within 24 hours of registering the case. Unfortunately, in Puducherry, not even one of these cases has so far been reported.

In the case of this 14-year-old, however, the members of the CWC became aware of the case through the media. Now, they have asked the police to file a report by Monday in time for their weekly meeting, Chairperson of the CWC Vidya Ramkumar told The Hindu.

The monitoring of all cases under POCSO should be done by the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights. In the Union Territory, the SCPCR has so far not been set up. Only now the authorities have sent out a letter requesting that the Lieutenant Governor be granted permission to appoint a chairperson for the SCPCR. Only after his approval will they be able to set up the committee, an official from the Department of Women and Child Development said. Until such a time, the CWC is the authorised body to report such crimes, the official said.

According to Ms. Ramkumar, most of the cases are not reported to the CWC, whether it is sexual assault, children beggars or anything else.

Very few people, even those in the official machinery, are aware of the existence of such a body. In this particular case, they had asked that the victim be brought to the CWC so they could provide counselling and other support, but in other cases they do not even hear of an occurrence.

When asked about reporting cases to the CWC, a senior police officer told The Hindu that they had received one-day training on filing complaints under POCSO, and they were aware of this.

Often, the cases took place on holidays so it took some time for them to be able to report the case to the CWC.

In case the general public was aware of any kind of crimes against children or any violation of a child’s rights, they could contact the CWC through the 24-hour helpline at 1098.

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Printable version | Nov 27, 2020 11:41:19 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/child-welfare-committee-kept-in-dark-over-child-sexual-abuse/article4706795.ece

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