Maharashtra will have a zero-tolerance approach towards child sexual abuse and all such cases will be taken up on priority while awareness would be raised about POCSO Act to nail offenders, a senior official has said.
The Maharashtra State Child Development department, the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights and the UNICEF jointly organised a workshop in the city last evening to create awareness on the provisions of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012.
"The state has declared zero tolerance towards child sexual abuse and all the recommendations and suggestions which we have received during this consultation programme will be converted into action points. The state will respond certainly and immediately in all cases of child sexual abuse," Ujjwal Uke, principal secretary, women and child development, said while addressing the workshop.
A large number of people in India are unaware of the POCSO Act (which came into force in 2012) and this makes the offenders go "scot free" after committing a crime, Uke said.
"The number of cases of child sexual abuse has increased over the past few years but a large number of people are unaware of the provisions of the POCSO Act. Children being small are unable to describe their ordeal in detail, which only favours the offenders. But, parents should realise that offenders will be punished severely under this Act, if they come out and complain against such offenders," he said.
We have to ensure that more and more people are educated about the provisions of the Act which will help us in ensuring harsh punishment for the offenders and thereby reducing the crimes against children in the state, he said.
Uke asked the children working with charitable organisations to ensure that people from the lower strata of society raise their voice against child sexual abuse.
The workshop was attended by eminent judges, lawyers, police officers, members of Juvenile Justice Board and child welfare committee "to announce zero tolerance against child sexual abuse."