The Kerala high court Friday directed CBSE and the state government to issue necessary and appropriate orders making it mandatory for every school under their control and within the territory of Kerala to include a prevention-oriented programme on sexual abuse as a mandatory part of the curriculum.
The bench of Justice Bechu Kurian Thomas directed the state and the CBSE to form a committee of experts to identify the mode and methodology for imparting an age-appropriate prevention-oriented programme on sexual abuse. The committee should submit its recommendations within six months and the state and the CBSE should issue orders in order to implement the sex education programme from the next academic year.
The court made the directions while considering an application for regular bail in an alleged rape of a 15-year minor girl. While considering the anticipatory bail application of the alleged accused, a 22-year-old youth, on June 8 this year, the court suo moto impleaded the state of Kerala, the CBSE and the Kerala State Legal Services Authority (KELSA).
The court said, “Considering the lack of appropriate measures to impart awareness on sexual crimes in the schools in Kerala, this court is of the opinion that certain directions are required to be issued.”
The judge said, “Adhering to the objectives of statutes relating to sexual offences and abstaining from sexual crimes is a necessity in a civilised society. As children grow up to be future citizens of the country, this civic sense, if imbibed by them during their school years, will hold them in good stead throughout their life. This civic sense can enlighten the mind of the child in his formative years. Awareness of statutory provisions relating to sexual offences and other allied matters is to be made part of the curriculum, to be taught at regular intervals.”
The judge further noted, “Continuous or repeated awareness sessions about the pernicious effects of sexual offences alone may achieve the desired objective of a drastic reduction in the commission of such crimes. It is the need of society that a child is provided with an atmosphere to grow and blossom. However, a deviation or an abrasion at a young age has a tendency to snuff out his or her future. The awareness of the consequences of sexual offences and their ramifications, if imparted timely in the proper manner, can pave the way to prevent the commission of such offence.”
The court said if the purpose of the POCSO Act and the amendments brought to the IPC are to be achieved, children must be made aware of the different aspects of sexual crimes and the modes to identify and avert such instances. “The procedure to impart awareness on sexual crimes, presently in vogue, has not yielded the desired results as it falls woefully short of the requirements. Even the terms ‘good touch’ and ‘bad touch’, which are informed as being taught in some schools, are noticed to be too wide and ambiguous. These wide terms may require better categorisation like ‘safe touch’, ‘unsafe touch’, ‘unwanted touch’, etc., not only to identify abuses but also to avoid false or wrong accusations,” the judge said.
The court said it is attempting to instill in the mind of the government as well as the school authorities the need to evolve a more functional and authoritative procedure to create awareness of not just the provisions of the POCSO Act but also to evolve a methodology to impart, in a systematic manner, the ill effects of sexual offences.
“This must include methods for identifying instances of sexual offences, means to prevent the commission of such crimes and other allied issues. One of the prime objectives is to impel the school authorities to educate the children and empower them by imparting awareness as a mandatory process,” the court added.
The court also said that the alarming rise in the number of sexual offences committed against school children requires introspection. “Many times, the perpetrators are youngsters. Young children indulge in such offending acts for manifold reasons varying from pre-planned crimes to natural inquisitiveness of adolescence and some arising out of amorous relationships. At times the sexual acts are committed with the belief that the consent of both partners is sufficient to absolve them from the crime. By the time they realise their assumptions to be mistaken notions, it is too late in the day and the situation becomes destructive, leading to very inconvenient results and beyond any remedial measures,” the court said.