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 NICP workshop gets activists bemoan lack of laws to deal with child sexual abuse

CHILDLINE 1098 Service » 1098 Events » NICP workshop gets activists bemoan lack of laws to deal with child sexual abuse

 NICP workshop gets activists bemoan lack of laws to deal with child sexual abuseMumbai, November 12: The National Initiative for Child Protection (NICP) workshop at Nirmala Niketan Auditorium was held to sensitise the top officers of the Mumbai police force on Child Sexual Abuse (CSA). The workshop saw 50 officers take a day out from their schedule to participate. The Resource persons drawn from the law, counseling and medical professions held the interest of the officers as they took them through the basics of the three pillars of Child Protection. Naina Athale, Faculty Member, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) was one of the resource professionals who highlighted the myths and realities of CSA.

Starting with case studies and the use of art work to put children at ease, Athale helped participants broaden their horizon of what consists of sexual abuse. While many had dealt with cases of abuse, there was low awareness that exhibitionism and digital (fingers) penetration could also attract punishment under law. The participants were then apprised of Section 294 through which perpetrators of obscene acts such as exhibitionism, songs and expressions in public places can be booked.

On the question of how to judge a case of abuse, Ranjit Chouguley, the resource professional for legal issues in CSA, asked police officers to use only one parameter, "Always think would this be all right if it was my child? If the act is not right for your child then it is not right for anyone's child." Contrary to the myth in society that only strangers abuse children and abusers are monsters who are immediately identifiable. The fact that many abusers employ grooming techniques for the children and often collaborate with law enforcement agencies came as a surprise to many in the audience. "The Incest, pedophilia and sadism all come under the umbrella of CSA, though sadism can also be between husband and wife," said Athale. The resource persons stressed on the long term effects of abuse on children and their inability to give exact descriptions of abusers to law enforcement agencies and difficulties in remembering sequence of events.

Chouguley said, "It is important for the police to describe whatever they feel when they first meet the victims, whether the victim was scared, was facing a difficulty in talking etc, because the police play a crucial role in being the eyes and ears of the judge as they are the first people in contact with the victim." Giving an example of a judge going out of her way to put a victim of abuse at ease, resource persons spoke of Justice Ranjana Desai of the Bombay High Court who created a series of parameters for a case to make the victim comfortable while giving testimony. "The accused was brought in to the back of the court and didn't stand in front of the victim. The advocate representing the accused had to submit the questions in advance which were asked by the judge, thereby freeing the victim from facing an agonizing cross examination," said Chouguley.

NICP is CIF's initiative to catalyze allied systems organisations. The workshop was inaugurated with the tying of 'Suraksha Bandhans' on the wrists of all the policemen, as a gesture of CHILDLINE's appreciation for their continued commitment to protecting children. The workshop was organized by the Western Regional Resource Center (WRRC) of the CHILDLINE India Foundation (CIF) as a part of CHILDLINE Se Dosti celebrations and supported by the National Institute of Public Co-operation and Child Development (NIPCCD).

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