Child sexual abuse in Mumbai: Support systems hit by piling cases, staff crunch | mumbai news | Hindustan Times
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Child sexual abuse in Mumbai: Support systems hit by piling cases, staff crunch

The problem, said experts working in the field, was that the law to punish offenders is strong, but precious little is being done to use it well

mumbai Updated: May 21, 2017 11:10 IST
Farhan Shaikh

Why is there so little support for child sexual abuse victims and why are cases piling up in courts?

The problem, said experts working in the field, was that the law to punish offenders is strong, but precious little is being done to use it well.

Two of the four child welfare committees in Mumbai do not have a chairperson. There have been a spate of resignations and committee members said they were overworked and underpaid. Many social organisations HT spoke to claimed police officials often do not immediately inform the welfare panels about cases. Under POCSO, any such case has to be reported to the CWC within 24 hours of an FIR being filed.

“Support staff to help a victim are not appointed properly. In several cases, there have been gaps in the process of their appointment,” said Priti Patkar from the NGO Prerana.

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Ashoka fellow and child rights activist Maharukh Adenwala said, “The POCSO Act says child victims of sexual offences should be given support while journeying through the criminal justice system. There is a provision to appoint a support person both at the police station level and the special court level, but sadly most of the children do not have any support. Soon after the FIR is registered, the police have to inform the CWC. In a lot of cases, this is not happening too.”

Despite these challenges, however, the CWC has been trying to make things work. The only member at their one-room Dongri office said the law could be implemented better if the committees had more staff.

“We are facing troubles, but we try to do the best we can,” the member said. And they do. In one hearing HT came across, a committee member asked a 14-year-old boy if he will continue studying, now that the trial was over. The child nodded happily.