Srinagar, Feb 11: Despite the worsening scenario, the law protecting children against sexual abuse has not been implemented in the state.
Protection of children against sexual offences Act, 2012 (POCSO) was enacted by the government of India in 2012.
It aims to offer protection to children (individuals below the age of 18) from sexual violence including sexual assault, sexual harassment, and the inclusion of children in pornography.
The law has been extended throughout the country except in J&K.
Chief Executive Officer /Mission Director ICPS /Juvenile Justice, Hilal Bhat, said that law was still in its initial stage.
“The primary reason as to why this law couldn’t be extended to the state is because child protection mechanism in still in infancy,” Bhat said.
As per the officials, there are no special courts or child-friendly spaces for child sexual abuse victims.
The offenders are tried before regular criminal courts, they said.
“In normal criminal system, the entire focus is on the offender. As a result, victim gets completely ignored. The law makes the trial victim-centric,” said Bhat.
He said that Act also prevents “re-victimization” by adopting child-friendly measures.
“The victim doesn’t have to face police personnel or judiciary at the time of testifying,” he added.
The unimplemented law is a necessity in the valley, where 222 cases of sexual abuse against juveniles were reported in 2016.
The number is believed to have increased, as per the legal experts.
Habeel Iqbal, a lawyer in the Shopian Court, believes that the number of CSA cases in the valley is much higher.
“Official data is just the tip of an ice-berg. The need of the hour is the implementation of ‘POSCO Act’ in the valley,” he said.
The State Welfare Department recently proposed to establish Child Welfare Committees under Integration Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) in all districts.
The initiative aims to provide relief and ensure the protection of vulnerable children.
However, the proposal is yet to be implemented on the ground.
“We have set up structures and identified the people and resources who will work for the welfare of juveniles. In the next few days, we will begin our work and make sure every child-rights violation is addressed,” said Bhat.