NATIONAL

Tourist police to help fight child abuse

PANAJI, OCT. 7. The Goa police have decided to use the tourist police to fight child abuse.

Speaking to reporters after assigning the new task to the personnel here this evening, the Director-General of Police, Amod Kanth, said the tourist police are empowered with various provisions of the Goa Children's Act, 2003, the Juvenile Justice Act and various other penal laws. They would work closely with the Women and Children Protection Wing of the Goa Police, which comprises social workers, lawyers and doctors, in protecting children.

Mr. Kanth said a large number of migrant workers visit the State and their children are often found loitering on the beaches. Some of them hawk trinkets or indulge in petty thefts or begging. They were vulnerable to abuse. Such children would be taken into police custody and kept in children's homes before being handed over to their guardians. ``Also, children under the age of 14, employed in beachside shacks as masseurs or bartenders will be rescued,'' he said.

Stating that Goa was not a haven for paedophile activities, he said that there has been an increase in the number of cases of child abuse this year, largely due to increased awareness among the people. While 15 cases wereregistered till September-end, only seven such cases were registered in 2003. Out of 26 victims of reported rape cases, 10 were minors, he added.

Network with public

The tourist police would form a network with the local police, excise department, tourism department, general public and people associated with the tourism industry — hoteliers, travel agents, tourist guides, taxi operators, shack and restaurant owners — to ensure the safety of children. Apart from protecting children, they would also do a host of jobs, like gathering intelligence on sale, use of narcotics, regular policing, to make personnel of other agencies connected with tourism to discharge their duty properly and providing guidance to tourists.