Child sexual abuse: justice still denied in Kerala
KOCHI: In wake of increasing incidence of child sexual abuse (CSA), a workshop on CSA and its effective management was conducted by the Department of Clinical Psychology, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences in association with the Ernakulam Chapter of the Indian Association of Clinical Psychologists- Kerala Region. Anita Sunil, Clinical Psychologist at the Dubai Foundation of Woman and Children (DFWAC) was one of the main speakers. She highlighted the comprehensive management they could offer to victims of child abuse and human trafficking.
This seemed possible as the DFWAC was the single NGO working in this area, it came directly under the Dubai Ministry and also enjoyed adequate funding, excellent infrastructure, trained professionals with strict licensing regulations, and clear-cut allocation of responsibilities. This was in stark contrast with the situation in Kerala; experts observed in the workshop.
In spite of having the Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) and the comprehensive Prevention of Child Sexual Offenses Act, 2012 (POCSO) at the national level in India, the highly ambitious and much required Kerala state initiative launched in 2012, the Nirbhaya Programme to combat sexual violence and sex trafficking of women and children sadly failed to take off.
With even the vacancy of the Nodal officer unfilled to date, the social justice department appears to be carrying on catering to the victims of CSA and their families, without being able to truly uphold even the cardinal principles of ‘protection of child rights’ or ‘best interest of the child’.
Consequences of reporting abuse turning out to mean more trauma for the child and family, unduly prolonged trial periods, poor conditions at the shelter homes for children, lack of adequate financial support or proper monitoring of the few NGOs in the state - all these were observed as making the fight for prevention and protection in CSA an uphill task.
The workshop ended with the hopeful note.