Other States

POCSO cells in Bihar schools to hear sexual harassment

‘In the first phase, the units would be established in secondary schools’

Schools in Bihar would soon have ‘POCSO cells’ to hear complaints of sexual misconduct and exploitation, a government official said here on Sunday.

Bihar Education Project Council, an organization dedicated to achieving Universal Elementary Education (UEE) in the state, had last week issued direction to all district education officers to set up POCSO cells in schools, with students among others as its members, she said.

“We have given directions to the district education officers (DEOs) to set up POCSO cells in all schools of the state, starting March 1...”

“There will be a committee headed by the headmaster in each school, which will look into the complaints and take necessary action, according to the provisions of POCSO Act,” Kiran Kumari, special project officer, Bihar Education Project Council (BEPC), told PTI.

The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 aims to punish those engaging in sexual crimes against children, while safeguarding their interests at every stage of the judicial process.

In the first phase, the units would be established in secondary schools, she said, adding that the model would be later replicated in primary and middle schools.

Each committee will have the school principal or headmaster, a senior school teacher, a panchayati raj representative, a girl student, a boy student and a clerk as its members, Ms. Kumari explained.

“A student can either directly submit a written complaint of sexual exploitation or misconduct to the committee or leave it in the complaint box, with or without mentioning his or identity. The complaint box will be opened once every week.”

“If the committee deems fit, the complaint will be forwarded to the nearest police station. It will be the panel’s job to find out the identity of the complainant at the time of lodging of an FIR. As per POCSO rules, confidentiality of the complainant will be maintained,” she said

Noting that the “cells would work at two levels”, the BEPC state programme officer said awareness would be generated about sexual harassment in schools, as part of the initiative.

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Printable version | Apr 4, 2020 2:19:04 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/pocso-cells-in-bihar-schools-to-hear-sexual-harassment/article30895202.ece

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