In order to promote the protection of children (especially the school going females of the age group 04-18) from any kind of sexual offense, the government of Bihar has recently introduced ‘Special POCSO Cells’ to all the government schools across the state. The cells would come into existence by March 2020 as directed by the Chief Secretary to the State.
Defining the Relevance of POCSO-Act:
The word POCSO (Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences) reported its existence in India in the form of an act (widely known as POCSO-Act) in the year 2012. The government of India has passed this act in order to promote child safety against the heinous sexually oriented activities. The act draws its powers from the Constitution and the Convention on the Rights of Child (CRC-1989). Under the Indian Constitution, Article 15 Clause (3) empowers the government to make rules illustrating special provisions for children. The CRC-1989 was created by the General Assembly of the United Nations and was ratified by India in the year 1992. Under the Act, anyone who is convicted on grounds of sexual assault (penetrative/non-penetrative), sexual harassment or uses a child or children for pornographic purposes shall be punished with imprisonment (non-bailable) for a term which shall not be less than 5yrs/7yrs (on sub-sequent conviction) which may extend up to life imprisonment (with fine) or execution (death sentence).
The initiative of the Bihar Government:
Since the past decade, the activities of sexual abuse to children are on surge in the states of Bihar, Uttar- Pradesh, and Haryana. This shows the pathetic mindset of the society involved in such heinous activities. To curb the incidents the central government has launched POCSO-Act in 2012. Many states have ratified the act but its effective implementation on the ground level is still in limbo which reveals its darker side. The state of Bihar was adversely affected as a large number of children in the past have experienced sexual assault-related activities heavily. Over the past years, many such incidents have been reported in Bihar where even the schools were used as the launchpads for exploiting children sexually. To curb such a menace, the government has now awakened and is taking several steps to uplift the mental state of society. The recent launch of ‘Special POCSO cells’ in every government school is one such initiative. In its preliminary stage, the government has decided to cover the worst-hit areas of the northeast and western Bihar. Later, the state authorities shall cover around 75,000 government-owned primary and middle schools. Complaint boxes are also being installed in all schools to help children lodge their grievances in full confidentiality.
Writer’s Perspective on Bihar’s Approach to Special POCSO-Cells:
The initiative taken by the Bihar government is indeed a praiseworthy step towards child safety against the activities related to sexual exploitation at the school-place. Schools are the temples of learning and their sanctity should be preserved in all forms by law. The purpose could only be served when the devotees (students) to these temples (schools) feel safe physically and mentally. It will add up to their confidence and enhance their learning skills which in the future shall contribute to the efforts of Nation building. The initiative is on paper now and shall take a few months to acquire its real shape on the ground. Its effective implementation on the grass-root level is still a subject of discussion and needs to be reviewed with utmost priority.