The Special Wing for Crime Against Women and Children (CAWC) and the Department of Social Defence have launched an awareness campaign on Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act to prevent offences against children.
R. Lalvena, Commissioner, Social Defence, said the idea was to catch the attention of the public by highlighting the punishment for offences, which under the Pocso can even be death sentence.
“In Pocso cases, the perpetrators are predominantly men. Hence, we want to target places where men assemble, like salons and tea shops,” he said.
Highlighting that a number of Pocso cases resulted from elopement where the girl is under 18 years of age, he said it was important to send the message that it did not matter whether the sexual act was consensual.
Chennai police said that while a total of 252 cases were registered under Pocso Act in 2019 in the city, 2020 has so far witnessed 165 cases.
“Through this campaign, we are targeting likely perpetrators, victims and parents. It is a warning asking people not to take Pocso Act lightly,” said Seema Agarwal, ADGP headquarters, who is holding additional charge of CAWC.
“Across the State, the police and social defence departments will paste the posters in barber shops, tea shops, ration shops and places where people gather in large numbers,” she said and pointed out that unlike other crimes, in Pocso cases, the perpetrator is most often known to the family of the victim.
The SPs and Commissioners across the State were requested to release the poster, so that there is more awareness. “We are also planning to have video clips on the Act to be telecast on Kalvi channel to reach children,” she explained.
H. Jayalakshmi, Deputy Commissioner, CAWC, Chennai, said that apart from pasting posters, they have been conducting online sessions providing safety tips for parents to guide children on cyber safety.
The police officers have been asking working parents to talk to their children before and after returning from work to understand their problems.
A three-day training session on the Pocso Act and Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act was also organised this week for Child Welfare Officers in police stations. Mahesh Kumar Aggarwal, Commissioner of Police, Chennai, took part and addressed the officers as part of the training.
(Childline, operates a helpline, 1098, for children in distress across the country)