The way in which police handle cases of sexual assault has undergone a significant change over the last few years, a senior officer told The Indian Express. The officer was part of a team from the Criminal Investigation Department that analyses, in detail, cases of sexual abuse for the annual ‘Crime in Maharashtra’ report. “Over the years, the police machinery has drastically changed the way it looks at cases of sexual abuse. Today, police undergo detailed training on how to sensitively handle cases of sexual assault, especially those involving children. The victims undergo professional counselling and it is ensured that the process, which follows the registration of the FIR, does not cause further agony to the victim. I will not say that the system is perfect everywhere, but there is a sincere attempt to make it better,” she said.
“It is a positive sign that more people are coming forward to register cases, but the low rate of conviction is still a concern. There has been an analysis, based on the economic class the victims belong to, and numbers suggest the reporting of cases from the higher income category, is less. Also worrying is the fact the majority of the perpetrators are known to the victims. Awareness and better communication — at the family level, school level — are keys to dealing with the issue,” said the officer.
“There has to be communication between parents and teachers, and also between school authorities and the police. But above all, parents need to regularly talk to their children. There has to be a close watch to see if there are any behavioural changes in the children. When police stations conduct awareness programmes in schools, students are told about these things, right from the concept of good touch and bad touch, and that they need to speak to their teachers and parents. These sessions are conducted for both boys and girls,” she added.