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Andheri school abuse case: Child rights panel to look into police investigation

Mumbai city news: The teacher took the girl to the trustee’s room, where he sexually assaulted her, the police said

mumbai Updated: Jun 12, 2017 10:06 IST

Maharashtra’s child rights panel will take suo-moto (on its own) cognisance of the case against a Mumbai school trustee for allegedly raping a three-year-old student. On Tuesday, parents said the school had ‘ignored’ complaints made by the child’s mother before she approached the police. Parents also said the school did not have CCTV cameras in the premises, although it is now mandatory.

On May 18, the girl’s mother filed a rape case under section 376 (2) of the Indian Penal Code and sections of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act against a 57-year-old founder-trustee of an international school and a nursery teacher for allegedly raping the child on the school premises. The Maharashtra State Commission of Protection of Child Rights (MSCPCR) decided to look into the police investigation of the case, after reading media reports on Tuesday.

“Since the survivor is a child, we will intervene in this matter. It is our responsibility to ensure her rights are not trampled upon” said an official from the commission. The parents and the school management will be called for hearings at the commission’s office in Worli.

According to the police, the incident took place late last year. The teacher took the girl to the trustee’s room, where he sexually assaulted her, the police said. According to allegations in the FIR, earlier this year, the girl’s mother noticed a change in her daughter’s behaviour and began questioning her. The girl then told the mother about the assault, the police said.

Read more: Mumbai school trustee booked for raping 3-year-old: What we know about the case

The FIR also mentions the accused sexually assaulted another three-year-old boy. The boy’s parents have been contacted by the police to verify the allegation.

One of the parents told Hindustan Times that the complainant, in a meeting with other parents on Saturday, told them that she had approached the school in April, but it did not respond to her complaints. “The parent said she spoke to the school administrator, who was at that time accompanying Cass 12 students on a trip abroad, but did not get a favourable response. Her attempts at reaching the trustee’s wife were not successful,” the parent said.

The school principal was unavailable for comment on Tuesday despite repeated calls and messages. On Monday, the principal said the school is cooperating with the police, “The allegations are untrue. The complaint was lodged by the parent. We are giving the cops whatever they want.”

Educators and teachers across Mumbai schools are shocked by the allegations and highlighted the need for better awareness on handling child sexual abuse complaints, and sensitising students about differentiating between a good and bad touch.

“If a child complains about sexual abuse it should not be ignored, instead teachers need to be equipped to deal with the complaints,” said Father Francis Swamy, principal of the St Mary’s School (ICSE) Mazgaon and joint secretary of the Archdiocesan Board of Education, which runs 150-odd schools in Mumbai. In 2015, ABE had created a child protection policy, which had rules for teachers and other staff members. Schools are also required to set up child monitoring committees to protect students and teachers

Swamy urged schools to have open discussions on sexual abuse. “Instead of shying away, schools need to discuss news reports with their teachers and parents. They need to be ready with an action plan in case of such incidents.”

Read more: Trustee of prominent Mumbai school booked for raping 3-year-old student