Gulabi Autos Driven by Women for Women
1st March 2014
Dear Sri Siddharamaiah ji,
Sub: B.PAC’s Safety for Women and Girl Child Initiative B.SAFE requests announcement of scheme “Gulabi Autos” and “Gulabi Cabs”
Introduction : The crying need for a Safer City
As you are no doubt aware there has been an alarming rise in crimes such as rape and sexual assault on women and girl children all across the country. It is shameful that a large nation such as ours cannot find effective ways to make our cities and our country more secure for our women and children.
There is a crying need for citizens, government, political leadership, civic bodies and other parastatal agencies and other stake holders to come together and address this on a war footing. Our women and girl children are being seriously wronged and our judiciary has not been swift enough to mete out justice, which has only resulted in emboldening the bad elements in our society to take advantage of the situation and attack without any fear.
Some of the unenviable statistics with regard to Safety for Women are given below:
1. Karnataka ranks 10th in terms of percentage share of the overall national figures of crimes against women.
2. Bangalore ranks number four in terms of rape cases at 3.8 per cent, with Delhi at the top (17.6 per cent). Bangalore is also in the second position when it comes to crimes against women. You will agree that this is a terrible distinction for the city.
3. The year 2012 saw several gruesome cases of rape and assault on women, and abuse of children. 17 cases of rape and sexual abuse of children were reported in the city in the last seven months (June to December 2012). Some more high profile than the other, which shocked the city — be it the alleged abuse of a three-and-a-half-year-old by her father, the rape of a young law student on the Jnana Bharathi campus or the reported rape of a 7 year old girl in Bangalore or rape of a medical student at Manipal or the more recent horrifying rape of a young 2 year old child in the school premises by the van driver.
These statistics are horrifying and we must take bold and decisive steps to shed the tag of an unsafe city. This calls for swift action on many fronts.
One of the areas for immediate action is the growing concern over safety of women in public transport . Auto Rickshaws are the major mode of transportation in the city. Unfortunately women of the city are not finding this mode of transportation safe anymore.
During the past several months B.PAC has been having a dialogue with the government, women commuters and auto drivers to understand the issues of safety in public transport. As part of our B.SAFE initiative to promote “Safety in Public Spaces “ and create greater women’s empowerment, B.PAC proposes the “Gulabi Auto “ Scheme. We request the Government to look at it positively and make an announcement by the 4th of March. This will enable us to announce the same for the upcoming International Women’s Day on March 8. This would be a great gift to the many women who use autos at all times of the day and a great source of livelihood for the women auto drivers.
A brief concept note on the Gulabi Auto is outlined below for your kind consideration.
Gulabi Autos for a Safe City
Objectives of the scheme:
- Safety of women in public transport by having women driven autos
- Empower 5000 women by self-employment in turn impacting 5000 families.
Gulabi Auto as the name suggests will be Pink in color (Gulabi) owned and driven by Women.
The following are some of the key features suggested under this initiative:
a) Gulabi AutosFor Women by Women:
These autos will be owned and driven by women. Gulabi Autos would benefit the woman commuter immensely making her feel more safe. We have spoken about this concept to several potential women commuters and it has received tremendous positive response and women have welcomed this suggestion wholeheartedly.
b) GPS and Technology enablement :
Gulabi autos can be GPS enabled with safety panic button coupled with a technology application on their mobile that can send an immediate alert to nearby police stations and control rooms.
c) Training for Women Drivers:
The women drivers will undergo training in all aspects including driving skills, customer service, language skills, routes and directions and self defense workshops . This will ensure that they are fully ready to face the challenges that will come their way.
d) Easy access to finance:
There are several schemes run by the government for Entrepreneurs and some specifically for Women Entrepreneurs and some with Equity Support and/or grants from the government. All such facilities and schemes should be made applicable to this scheme as well since this will support and encourage entrepreneurship and improve livelihood of women and hence, their families.The Gulabi autos may also be funded through Mahila Bank under the Self Employment Scheme or similar schemes by other Institutions that will encourage women self employment.
A similar scheme should be announced for “Gulabi Cabs” as well.
We hope that the Government will consider our request on an urgent basis as this measure will make our women and children feel safer in the city. This would be one of the several steps we need to take for instilling faith in every woman that Bangalore stands united and strong to ensure her safety.
Through its B.SAFE initiative, B.PAC is working in the areas of Safety in Public Spaces, Safety at the Work Place and Safety in Schools and Advocacy. It strongly recommends the implementation of a zero- tolerance program using the tools of education, social sanction, public shaming, speedy police and juidicial action and timely provision of safety related infrastructure equally.
“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.”
Mohandas Pai Vice-President, B.PAC
Sridhar Pabisetty Chief Programs Officer, B.PAC
CC : Hon’ble Shri Ramalinga Reddy, Minister for Transport and Minister of for Bangalore
CC : Mr. Kaushik Mukherjee , Chief Secretary
CC: Mr PN Sreenivasachary , Principal Secretary Transport
CC: Mr. Auradhkar , Police Commissioner
Justice Verma Committee Report Amendments to the Criminal Law on sexual Harassment
The Justice Verma Committee on Amendments to Criminal Law (the “Committee”) was constituted by a Government of India notification dated 23.12.2012, to look into the possible amendments to Criminal Law to provide for quicker trial and enhanced punishment for criminals committing sexual assault of extreme nature against women. The Committee comprised of 3 members – late Justice J.S. Verma, who was also its Chairman and the two members were Justice Leila Seth and Gopal Subramaniam. It tabled its report exactly one month after being constituted, i.e., on 23rd January 2013.
The Committee gave its recommendations on women and sexual violence and made several detailed suggestions about amendments to the made to the Indian Penal Code (“IPC), the Code of Criminal Procedure (“CrPC”) and the Indian Evidence Act (“IEA”). For the purpose of this report, the following are the recommendations made by the Committee for the modifications to be made to Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2012:
- Amendment to Section 100 of the IPC:Section 100 of the IPC extends the right of private defence of the body to causing death in certain circumstances.The Committee suggested that these circumstances enumerated therein should also extend to the right of private defence in case of an Acid Attack, which was made an offence under Section 326A as per the Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2012 (the “Bill”). This recommendation was not incorporated in the Criminal Laws(Amendment) Act, 2013(the “201
- Insertion of Section 166A in the IPC:It recommended the insertion of Section 166A to the IPC, imposing a maximum punishment of Rigorous Imprisonment for five years in case if any Public Servant knowingly disobeys a direction of Law, which includes refusal to record information given regarding offences committed under Sections 354, 354A, 354B, 354 C(2),376(1), 376(2), 376(3), 376A, 376B(1), 376B(2), 376C, 376D or 376F of the IPC which punish offences of sexual nature against women. This recommendation was incorporated in the 2013 Act. In the 2013 Act Section 166B was also inserted. This provision penalizes a hospital for refusing to provide first aid and medical treatment to any person who is a victim of an offence under Sections 326A, 376, 376A, 376B, 376C, 376D or 376E. The 2013 Act also added Section 357C to the CrPC which cast an obligation upon all hospitals to immediately inform the police of any offences committed.
- Acid Attack: The Committee suggested that any damage caused to any part of a person’s body by throwing or administering acid to that person or using any other means with the intention of causing damage of a similar nature, shall be an offence punishable with rigorous imprisonment of at least ten years, which may also extend to life imprisonment and also with the payment of compensation to the victim to cover the medical expenses for the treatment required by her.It was further recommended that the attempt to throw acid or any other substance likely to cause damage or injury of a similar nature shall be punishable with Rigorous Imprisonment for a period of at least 5 years, which may extend to 7 years and the payment of compensation to the victim to meet the medical expenses incurred by her. The 2013 Act incorporated these recommendations with one change, i.e., making the perpetrator liable to pay fine but extending to the same amount as contemplated by the Committee in its report. These were added under Sections 326A and 326B to the IPC.
- Sexual Assault:The Committee suggested that both physical assault and verbally outraging the modesty of woman be treated as Sexual Assault. It recommended that the punishment for the physical acts of touching sexually without the permission of a woman be punishable with Imprisonment for a term extending to not more than five years or with fine or both. For the latter, that is for using words, gestures or acts (which includes showing pornographic material) creating an unwelcome threat of sexual nature or an unwelcome sexual advance, a punishment of imprisonment for a term of one year or fine or both should be imposed. The former is already punishable under Section 354 of the IPC, the 2013 Act enhanced the punishment as recommended by the Committee. However, verbal Sexual Assault was not made punishable under the 2013 Act. It is already punishable under Section 509 of the IPC, however, under Section 509 the existence of the intention to outrage the modesty of a woman by the usage of such gestures, words or acts is essential. Therefore, the suggestion of the Committee was not incorporated to this extent under the 2013 Act.
- Sexual Harassment: The Committee recommended that Domestic Workers should be covered under the purview of the Sexual Harassment at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Bill, 2012 that was then due before the Parliament. It further recommended that the provision in the Bill that states that first efforts of reconciliation must be made between the victim and the harasser, should be scrapped since it was not in conformity with the guidelines laid down by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the Vishaka Case since the SC, vide that judgement intended for work places to be secure and safe from harassment. The Committee also recommended payment of compensation by the employer to the woman who has suffered harassment. Another vital recommendation made by the Committee was that instead of the Internal Complaints Committee that every employed has an obligation to constitute, an Employment Tribunal must be set up. This, the Committee recommended because it was of the opinion that having a internal committee which comprise of members who are employees at the same work place would defeat the entire purpose of having such a committee to check cases of sexual harassment since the employer will be in a position to exude some sort of pressure on the members. The Sexual Harassment Act, 2013 did not incorporate several suggestions made by the Justice Verma Committee, for instance under the Act, the Redressal mechanism is still the Internal Complaints Committee to be constituted by the employer. The 2013 Act on the other hand, inserted Section 354A making Sexual Harassment a punishable offence, however, the scope of Sexual Harassment under the 2013 Act differs from its scope in the Sexual harassment of Women at Workplace Act, 2013.
- Voyeurism and Stalking:It was recommended that the IPC be amended to criminalize voyeurism and stalking. The 2013 Act has, under Section 354C and 354D respectively criminalized these two acts.
- Trafficking and Slavery: The Committee opined that the definition of trafficking under the Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act was not a comprehensive one and it only criminalized trafficking for the purpose of prostitution. Therefore, it recommended that the provisions relating to slavery under the IPC be amended to criminalize trafficking and it also recommended criminalizing employment of trafficked persons. It further recommended that juvenile and women homes should be put under the direct control of the High Courts and that steps should be taken to reintegrate trafficked woman and children back into the society. The recommendation of the Committee was incorporated in the 2013 Act only partly. That is to say that the 2013 Act did not expressly criminalize employment of trafficked persons as recommended by the Committee.
- Rape: The Committee suggested that the distinction between Rape and Sexual Assault be maintained. This is because the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (PoCSOA) defines ‘sexual assault’ to mean all forms of sexual abuse that does not involve penetration of any sorts and therefore there would be a clear contradiction between the two legislations if under the IPC sexual assault would include rape. Therefore, it was of the opinion that this distinction be maintained. This suggestion was incorporated in the 2013 Act, and Sexual Assault continued to be defined under Section 354 of the IPC, while rape continued to be defined under Section 375 of the IPC.
- Amendment to the AFSPA: The Committee recommended that an amendment be made to the Armed Forces Special Powers Act which is in force in certain parts of India. It recommended that a proviso be added to Section 6 of the Act. Presently, a sanction from the Central Government is required if any legal proceedings have to be instituted against any person in respect of any act purported to be done under the provisions of the Act. The Committee recommended that an exception to this rule be made by adding a proviso to Section 6 which states that no such sanction will be required for offences alleged to have been committed under Sections 354, 354A, 354B, 354C, 376(1), 376(2), 376(3), 376A, 376B, 376C, 376D, 376D or 376E of the IPC. This amendment to the very controversial AFSPA has still not been made.
- Amendment to the Representation of Peoples Act: The Committee also recommended that a person be disqualified under Section 8 of the Act not only if he convicted of an offence by a court of competent jurisdiction but also if a court has taken cognizance of the said offence. The Committee also recommended that the list of these offences, as detailed in Schedule I to the Act, also include other sexual offences against a woman, apart from rape, along with offences like kidnapping etc which were are not covered under Section. These recommendations of the Committee have still not been implemented.
- Public Emergency Response System: The Committee suggested the setting up of a Public Emergency Response System for all Emergency Responses like fire, ambulance tec. It recommended that this Cell will not report to the police but the Administrative Body within the City. The Committee proposed for the same to work in the following manner: “Thus in case of an emergency call the ERCC worker at the time of receiving the call routed from the telephony provider will have the location of the caller which will be plotted onto the same Geospatial map data which has the ER units plotted. Based on the type of emergency the ERCC worker can dispatch the closest ER unit to assess the situation and report back to the ERCC for appropriate action or the ERCC worker can dispatch a suitable ER service unit.”
- Police Reforms: The Committee gave various recommendations on police reforms. It recommended that a State Security Commission should be established to ensure that the state governments do not exercise excessive and unwarranted control over the police. It suggested that such a commission should be headed by the Chief Minister or the Home Minister of the State. It further recommended that Commission should lay down broad policy guidelines so that the police may act within the same. It further recommended that DGP and IGP should have a minimum tenure of two years and that a Police Establishment Board should be established to decide all the transfers, postings and promotions of officers. However, the recommendations of the Committee regarding police reforms have, like many other recommendations, have failed to see any positive implementation or incorporation.
- Reforms in Management of Cases related to crimes against women: The Committee gave various recommendations on police reforms. It recommended that a State Security Commission should be established to ensure that the state governments do not exercise excessive and unwarranted control over the police. It suggested that such a commission should be headed by the Chief Minister or the Home Minister of the State. It further recommended that Commission should lay down broad policy guidelines so that the police may act within the same. It further recommended that DGP and IGP should have a minimum tenure of two years and that a Police Establishment Board should be established to decide all the transfers, postings and promotions of officers. However, the recommendations of the Committee regarding police reforms have, like many other recommendations, have failed to see any positive implementation or incorporation.
- Medical Examination of Sexual Assault Survivor: The Committee suggested guidelines for the medical examination of a victim of Sexual Assault. It laid down a checklist for collection of forensic evidence, which will be crucial for deicing a case of alleged assault. It laid down a list of things that had to be asked to every patient being treated by a Medical Practitioner, for instance nature of the assailants, nature of the physical contact, history of injury marks etc. It finally gave a checklist for the general examination of every patient. It also recommended that a counselor be present during the interview and the medical examination of a victim of sexual assault. Apart from this it gave a transcript for the interview of a trafficked girl and a transcript for interview of abused children.
Community to Protect the Child – By DR.S.T.Ramesh
It takes a community to protect a child. The school, parents and the community are all equally responsible in ensuring the safety and well being of a child.
- All child care institutions, like day care centers, schools, hostels, tuition and coaching centres, other institutions, where children congregate have to setup an internal vigilance committee(IVC) of staff and parent representatives who have been hand-picked for the role.
- This internal committee to be constantly attentive from the point of view of safety of the children. All parts of the schools like classrooms, playgrounds, canteens, corridors, etc to be regularly monitored.
- All activities of the children like arriving and departing from school, playtime, mealtimes, toilets, etc to be monitored
- Monitoring should be done through visits and physical presence and not remotely.
- A responsible female teacher to accompany children in the school van / bus.
- Children should not to be left in the exclusive care of male personnel (this would include all categories)
- The senior-most person in the school should be held squarely responsible for any untoward incidents that occur on the school premises, while the class teacher should be accountable for anything that happens to the child while in the classroom.
- The Department of Women & Child Development (DWCD), the nodal agency for child protection in the state, should come up with an executive order or a piece of legislation which defines the roles and responsibilities of the all teaching and non teaching staff and the management of educational and child care institutions.
- The DWCD should take up in ernest, training and awareness programs on the newly enacted Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences Act 2012 (POCSO) among all stakeholders of child protection like police, staff of District Child Protection Units, staff of child care institutions, Childline workers, teachers school staff, etc.
- Verification of antecedents of prospective staff of a child care institution prior to appointment should be made mandatory.
- The police department has a solid data base of offenders available which should be made available to employers. While not all offenders may be listed, the verification process itself acts as a strong deterrent for many offenders.
- The Police has to in turn simplify and tighten the verification process despite all odds (shortage of staff and over burdened workforce). A simplified online process will encourage employers to use the verification system. This will only be possible with a lot of support from the government.
- The Police should initiate and encourage organised community policing which has proved internationally to be a very useful way of checking crimes. This also establishes rapport between the police and the community.
- The Gender Sensitization Police Program of Karnataka Police is an ongoing program which has proved to be effective in the state
- In order to accommodate their professional lives, we find parents increasingly dependent on day care centers, schools, auto and school vans and buses to accommodate their professional lives. But it needs to be said that parents have to be a lot more vigilant and wary while entrusting their children in the care of schools, house maids, drivers, grandparents, etc.
- All details of the auto or van driver should be available with parents at all times.
- Parents need to also create an environment where their children can communicate with them freely.
Dr. S. T. Ramesh is Dg & IGP(Retd), Karnataka State Police
Child Centric Approach to Child Sexual Abuse
The Need for a Child-Centric Response to CSA
The continual reporting of child sexual abuse (CSA) by media, in the context of many recent events raises the challenge of how to tackle the national menace of this ‘silent violent epidemic’. A critical spect of child protection, also a child public health issue, CSA warrants systemic approaches that are uncompromisingly child-centric. Part of this has to do with preventive programs in schools and other childcare agencies. Focus on prevention has the potential to reduce sexual victimization and even sexual offences in the general population.However, when an event occurs, it is addressed by systems of criminal justice, police, schools, families, and healthcare, which generate a flurry of incoherent activity, albeit in good faith, thereby compromising the child’s best interests. The major emphasis of these activities are directed towards the child ‘victim’ through enquiry, interrogation and intrusive detailing of the event to verify it and then bring the perpetrator to book.The balance between the need for justice and empowered rehabilitation of the child becomes precarious. There is thus an urgent need to develop a protocol-based systemic response ensuring that the child’s agenda i.e. healing and recovery, is at the core of it.
Over the past year, the Dept. of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry at NIMHANS has received several children with CSA issues. When they come for help, they are extremely overwhelmed after visits to the Child Welfare Committee, police station, the hospital; by then, the child has been subjected to questioning on multiple occasions and therefore to re-traumatization.There are many areas which have to be systematically addressed namely, the child’s reaction to the abuse, ensuring the child’s immediate safety, medical and mental health needs of the child, the concerns of the family, including social stigma.On the other hand, there is a sense of urgency to in legal procedures. Towards this, there is an understandable emphasis by the police on evidence and enquiry processes and related pressure from media and civil society, raising questions on the timely nature and effectiveness of these processes.
What a Child centric Response Entails
Based on our experience, NIMHANS believes that planned, protocol-based, comprehensive and sensitive care should be provided at all stages of intervention to victimized children. The primary goal is to create a system of investigation which is child friendly and in accordance with principles of child rights and protection.
Where Families can go for Help
- Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2013 (POCSO) mandates that the child be rovided with emergency medical services (EMS) within 24 hours of filing the FIR. EMS are provided by state Registered Medical Practitioners (RMP) in government hospitals (Vani Vilas and Indira Gandhi Institute of Child health) and only in absence of such an agency should the child be referred to other sectors. Where the Special Juvenile Police Units (SJPU) work in collaboration with government hospitals, the detailed enquiry can be completed in one sitting rather than the child being interviewed multiple times.
- Once the medical examination is done and there is medical evidence, what the Dept. of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, NIMHANS can offer is combined therapeutic and forensic interviewing to assist both the healing of the child and the necessary justice processes. This interviewing is done based on existing international protocols which are child-sensitive and can stand the scrutiny of court procedures. In children with symptoms, we work through trauma by encouraging expression of feelings regarding the abuse, validating experiences, and teaching personal safety. In very young children, this is done through art and play work.We offer social interventions in order to help the family cope with the consequences of abuse, also facilitating liaison with the Child Welfare Committee (CWC), Centre for Child and Law (CCL) and legal aid services as necessary.
- It is important for parents to not ignore or undermine a child’s statements and innocuous remarks. When in doubt it would be prudent to corroborate the information from various sources. An open, supportive stance, assuming a position that child is right would be helpful to facilitate further disclosure on abuse. It would be judicious to err on the side of caution especially in face of long term consequences of CSA. It is also important not to blame the child.The support given by the parent helps in facilitating better healing of the victimized child.
Preventive workshops, personal safety workshop, life skills education can help as preventive strategies.However, when an incident takes place the system should have a clear protocol for response. This protocol should entail the following:
- Whether the CSA incident occurs within or outside the school premises, by school staff or others, especially if a child reports to anyone in the school, the school’s position must be one of acknowledgement and involvement.
- Every school must have There should be a pre-set response plan which should include:
- An identified person (known to the children) who can respond in a sensitive and gentle manner to alleged instances of abuse reported by the child.
- A next-level reporting authority (such as the principal) who will inform the parents.
- The school should guide and make available to parents the first level medical and other facilities to seek assistance (described above).
- Unless the school has a trained counselor or CSA expert, it should not attempt to interrogate the child. This needs to be done by trained experts, preferably in child mental health agencies such as NIMHANS or accredited comprehensive child response units
- The school needs to take a proactive stance with the concerned parents and other parents. They may also need to be alert to the impact on other children and get appropriate experts to do de-briefing as necessary.
- Furthermore, preparation needs to be made to receive the child back to the school in natural and non-stigmatizing ways so that the child re-integrates comfortably.
- In the immediate aftermath of trauma, when there is non-availability of a trained person within the police forces for sensitive interviewing of the child, they need to refer to an expert in agencies such as NIMHANS, where forensic interview protocols are followed in the context of healing interventions.
- Police need to be cognizant that interview processes involving children cannot be hastened as it can exacerbate the trauma and be detrimental to the child’s well-being.For instance, taking a child back to the scene of crime and asking him/her to explain/demonstrate what happened, causes the child to relive the trauma and could interfere with recovery; also, such pressure on the child is less likely to elicit accurate information
- They need to understand that there are robust acceptable methods of gathering forensic evidence to meet the immediate legal ends.
Media Good Practice
Media should be proactive in responding to crisis in ways that instills hope and confidence in the public versus fueling cynicism as the latter may only serve to increase the child’s trauma, and the family’s fears of social stigma.
- The media must protect the identity and privacy of the child. This includes allowing and enabling the family to pursue due medical and legal processes without heightening their trauma by repeated and sometimes intrusive queries.
- It would be helpful for the media, at the time of query/ reporting, to assist the family with information about where medical, mental health and legal, paralegal services is available
- Reporting on CSA could emphasize systems and treatments available for assistance, and strongly present the child’s entitlement to healing. This can be done by providing an on-going feedback about recovery and rehabilitation of the child.
Advisory for Family
- Do not ignore or undermine a child’s statements and innocuous remarks.
- Believe what your child tells you.
- Do not to blame the child.
- Contact Childline (1098) for assistance on how to report to police, Child Welfare Committee and medical/psychological help systems.
- File an FIR or report.
- Ensure that the child is provided with emergency medical services (EMS) (within 24 hours of filing the FIR) provided by state Registered Medical Practitioners (RMP) in government hospitals.
- Seek counselling from child mental health experts in government institutions to ensure that psychosocial assistance and healing interventions are provided to the child; and that evidence gathering and other legal processes are embedded within the healing context.
Prepared by Dr.Shekar P Sheshadri, NIMHANS
Advisory for the Schools
Whether the Act…
- Occurs within or outside the school premises,
- Is done by school staff or others
- Is reported by the child to anyone in school
The School’s Position…
- Should be one of acknowledgment that the incident occurred.
- Involvement and absolute support for the child.
The School’s Response…
Ensure a pre-set response plan which should include:
- Identification of a person at school known to the children, and who can respond in a sensitive and gentle manner to alleged instances of abuse reported by the child.
- Identification of a next-level reporting authority (such as the principal) who will inform the parents.
- Provision of guidance and help to parents to access the first level medical and other facilities, including reporting to the Child Welfare Committee (CWC).
- Referral to trained counsellors/ child mental health experts to provide psychosocial support and assistance to the child.
- Adoption of a proactive stance with the concerned parents and other parents, by addressing their fears and reassuring them that the necessary actions will be taken to help the child.
- Organization of de-briefing sessions for students and teachers following an incident.
- Preparation to receive the child back at school in natural and non-stigmatizing ways so that the child re-integrates comfortably
Prepared by Dr.Shekar P Sheshadri, NIMHANS
Advisory for the Police
As soon as the affected child reports to the police station, the police must:
- Register an FIR.
- Direct the child and family to seek assistance from Registered Medical Practitioners (RMP) in government hospitals, for the following:
- Medical examination
- Forensic interviewing
- Acute and on-going provision of psychosocial care
During the healing and investigation process
- Do not hasten interview processes with children. This can increase the trauma and be detrimental to the child’s well-being. Forensic interview protocols have to be part of a larger healing process.
- Never take a child back to the scene of crime and ask him/her to explain or demonstrate what happened.
- Ensure that investigative processes are planned and not repetitive.
- Collaborate with child mental health experts in government institutions to ensure that evidence-gathering is done in the context of psychosocial assistance and healing processes that are in the best interests of the child.
Prepared by Dr.Shekar P Sheshadri, NIMHANS
Child Protection Policy Discussion with schools
There have been several unfortunate incidents of child abuse in schools in Bangalore city and other parts of the state, and some of them have come to light. These heinous incidences are outrageous and firm action by the state and civil society is the need of the hour. In the light of this, the Bangalore Political Action Committee (B.PAC), through B.SAFE (the Women and Child Safety Initiative), organized a meeting of experts and various school authorities to encourage schools to adopt a Child Protection Policy, and to set up monitoring and evaluation of its implementation, in the participating schools, on 28th, November 2014. The Draft Child Protection Policy was discussed, with emphasis on the key provisions to be considered by schools for implementation.
The panel included Ms. Nina Nayak, the former Chairperson of the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, Ms. Suchitra Rao, Consultant with UNICEF& Government of Karnataka and B.SAFE member, Dr. Sangeeta Saksena, the co-founder of Enfold Proactive Health Trust and member of BPAC, Ramesh Hariharan, Vice Principal and Chief Protection Officer of Inventure Academy, advocates Ashok G.V, DivyaBalagopal and Harish N and representatives from over 15 schools.
It was collectively felt that measures by government agencies in schools were not child centric and not clearly thought out, and needed clarity through inclusive dialogue. The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 was highlighted and explained by the legal experts present. Besides urging schools to frame protection policies, the aspects to be considered by schools were also pointed out. “Sensitizing stakeholders to abuse and how to deal with it is crucial for redressal”, said Ashok G V. It was agreed that abuse is beyond gender and that men should not be labeled as the only predators. Mechanisms to monitor safety and security in schools were discussed and the need for trust and transparency with parents was acknowledged. Several schools raised concerns about safe transportation of children between home and school. Annabel Manwaring, Director of DPS-Whitefield expressed that ensuring children are always in groups, has been an effective practice. Awareness programs for children about abuse and reporting were also counted as essential. “While media is usefully bringing to light cases of abuse, they should ensure respect and privacy of the victim and family”, opined Revathy Ashok, CEO of B.PAC. Issues regarding abuse of children by children were also raised, which were clarified with references to the Juvenile Justice Act, 2014 by Suchitra Rao.
Dr. Saksena of Enfold heavily emphasized on the importance of involving children in the discussions to formulate the safety guidelines of their schools. “Children need to see consequences meted out to the perpetrators for complete recovery from the trauma”, she said, while talking about child-centricity. Ramesh Hariharan spoke of the “Our Safety Our Voice” program at Inventure Academy, which involved children from several socio-economic backgrounds and sought their views on abuse and their safety. It was observed that safety is a relative concept, different across various strata of society and it was the responsibility of care providers and adults to ensure children are safe everywhere.
The meeting resolved to approach policy implementation in a systematic and time-bound manner, with safety audit measures and quality checks. Regular meetings between experts and schools and frequent parley amongst the schools, regarding best practices, have been planned to effectively address this issue.