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Uttar Pradesh government falls short on implementing POCSO guidelines?

Uttar Pradesh government falls short on implementing POCSO guidelines?

February 9, 2023

Nishant Saxena

All Indian schools are required by the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act of 2012 to establish an anti-sexual harassment panel to handle cases involving children. However, in Uttar Pradesh, a majority of government schools have probably failed to comply with this important regulation. This is in stark contrast to private schools, which have been diligent in following the rules and regulations outlined in the POCSO Act.

Sarita Singh, a gender equity consultant for the basic education department, has been quoted as saying that regular awareness programs are held in schools and that nodal officers and basic education officers are in place to ensure that these campaigns are carried out effectively. According to Singh, there should be one dedicated teacher in each school to handle potential cases of sexual harassment.

In 2016, the basic education department sent out a circular to all government schools, mandating that each school have a three-member management committee to monitor possible sexual offences. This committee is to be chaired by the head of the school and must include at least one female member. However, according to Sarita Singh, there has been very little follow-up to properly enforce this order.

District Officer for Lucknow, the state capital, Vishwajeet Pandey, denied receiving any reports of sexual harassment incidents. He rather stated that they hardly ever receive complaints from school authorities and that, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the only complaint received was related to child marriage.

The basic education department may run awareness campaigns with teachers and students, but it seems a system for registering and addressing such complaints is lacking.

Shuchita Chaturvedi, a member of the Uttar Pradesh State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, has been quoted as saying, “If a child wants to register an anonymous complaint with school authorities, how are they supposed to do that? There is nobody to address these complaints. The children are not aware of the course of action they should adopt to register a complaint.”

The authorities maintain that a redressal mechanism is in place, but it is not clear how many schools have actually complied with the order.

Vijay Kiran Anand, the Director General for School Education in Uttar Pradesh, stated that they have a gender equity program in place and conduct regular awareness drives and training sessions for teachers and students. He added that his department has given instructions to schools but compliance with the order can be adjudged only when complaints surface. However, he also acknowledged that it is not possible to determine how many schools have actually followed the order.

In conclusion, while the basic education department in Uttar Pradesh may run awareness campaigns and provide suggestion boxes in some schools, a system for registering and addressing complaints of sexual harassment is most likely lacking. So, it is imperative that the government take immediate action to ensure that all schools comply with the POCSO Act and provide a safe and secure environment for children.

Also Read: Uttar Pradesh: Two sisters in same school? government to pay fee of one

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