IN A study conducted on the status of implementation of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act by NGO Prerana, it was found that of the 36 rural police stations, visited by the research team in 17 districts of the state, 20 did not have a woman police sub-inspector.
Under the provisions of the Act, as far as it can be practiced, the statement of a child victim should be recorded by a woman police officer, not below the rank of a sub-inspector. “It was commonplace to find that there was just one lady PSI assigned to cases at over 15 or even 25 rural police stations. In urban areas, every police station had at least one lady PSI dedicated to working on cases of children,” the study released on Monday states.
Pravin Patkar, co-founder of Prerana and Pooja Kandula, the research officer, who was part of the data collection, said this was one of the impediments in effective implementation of the Act in rural areas. Kandula said that during their research, they found instances where women PSIs would have to travel for hours and at odd times to reach the child.
The study was part of the NGO Prerana’s Aarambh Initiative, which included as respondents 64 policemen, 18 public prosecutors, 16 Child Welfare Commitees, 14 hospitals, 14 District Child Protection Units, 14 Civil Society Organisations and seven Juvenile Justice Boards.
The districts included Mumbai, Pune, Ahmednagar, Amravati, Aurangabad, Beed, Dhule, Jalgaon, Kolhapur, Latur, Nagpur, Nandurbar, Nashik, Raigad, Satara, Solapur and Wardha. Pravin Ghuge, the chairperson, Maharashtra State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, said that the Act’s implementation should also focus on rehabiliation and work on the gaps pointed out through the study including the lack of facilities at primary health care centres for medical examination.