COIMBATORE: The three boys, aged between 15 and 16, have been booked under the POCSO Act for sexually molesting an 11-year-old girl in Coimbatore. Two of them are alleged to have repeatedly assaulted the girl and were produced before the Juvenile Justice Board on Saturday. They are now lodged at an observation home for juveniles in Coimbatore city police said. Police have not yet secured the third boy.
According to the police, the girl, a class VII student, resides with her widowed father in a rented house near Sundarapuram. While her father goes to work, the child stays at the landlord's house on the ground floor of the building to watch television. Police said the landlord recently gave his 16-year-old son, a Class 10 student, a smartphone to attend online classes.
On May 20, when the girl was there watching television she is said to have noticed the boy and his friend watching pornography on the smartphone. On realising she had seen then, the two boys allegedly forced the girl to watch the videos before taking her to her house upstairs and sexually assaulting her. Police said they assaulted her repeatedly and warned her against telling anyone. According to police, the boys later invited another boy, a minor, to join them in sexually assaulting the girl. This went on for a week, police revealed.
A few days ago, the girl was taken to a government hospital after developing severe stomach pain. She revealed what had happened to the doctors who examined her. The doctors alerted Podanur police.
After receiving a complaint from the girl's father, Podanur police registered a case against the three boys under Sections 5 (aggravated penetrative sexual assault) and 6 (punishment for aggravated penetrative sexual assault) of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
The police picked up two and produced them before the Juvenile Justice Board which sent them to an observation home on Saturday night. Further investigation is on, said police.
Vidya Reddy of Tulir, who works in the area of child sexual abuse, sees such cases as reason why digital citizenship must become part of school syllabus and why children must be provided resources to understand boundaries and their own sexual development.
"Considering that more aspects of education, business and other interactions are shifting online, it is essential that digital citizenship becomes part of the school syllabus," she said. "Digital citizenship must be taught from Class 1 onwards with an understanding of the social and emotional learning of children."
"We have to understand we live in a sexualised world, and children are constantly exposed to sexual materials. Such crimes will continue to take place if we don't provide resources for children to understand boundaries, their own sexuality and sexual development and responsible use of technology," she explained.