Kerala Court Asks For Prevention Programme On Sex Abuse In School Syllabus

The court issued the directive while considering an application for regular bail relating to an incident of aggravated penetrative sexual assault by the petitioner on a victim, aged 15, who became pregnant.

Kerala Court Asks For Prevention Programme On Sex Abuse In School Syllabus

The court said the procedure to impart awareness has not yielded the desired results.

Kochi:

Expressing its anguish at the rise in sexual offences committed on school children, the Kerala High Court on Friday directed the State government and the CBSE to issue orders to include a prevention-oriented programme on sexual abuse as a part of the curriculum.

Justice Bechu Kurian Thomas issued the directive while considering an application for regular bail relating to an incident of aggravated penetrative sexual assault by the petitioner on a victim, aged 15, who became pregnant.

In its order, the court referred to a legislation called 'Erins Law', named after Erin Merryn-a child abuse survivor in the US, passed by Illinois State, mandating all schools to implement the prevention-oriented child sex abuse programme and suggested that it can be used as a guideline by Kerala and the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) while including the programme as part of the curriculum.

"The State of Kerala and the CBSE shall issue necessary and appropriate orders making it mandatory for every school under its control and within the territory of Kerala to include a prevention-oriented programme on sexual abuse as a mandatory part of the curriculum", the court said, invoking its powers under Article 226 of the Constitution.

It said a committee of experts shall be formed by Kerala and the CBSE to identify the mode and methodology for imparting an age-appropriate prevention-oriented programme.

"The Committee of Experts shall submit its recommendations within an outer period of six months from its formation, and appropriate orders shall thereafter be issued by the State of Kerala and the CBSE in tune with the recommendation so as to implement the programme from the academic year 2023-24," the court said, and directed all officials concerned to comply with its directions.

The court said the procedure to impart awareness on sexual crimes has not yielded the desired results.

Even the terms "good touch" and "bad touch", which are informed as being taught in some schools, are noticed to be too wide and ambiguous.

"These wide terms may require better categorisation like "safe touch", "unsafe touch", "unwanted touch", etc, not only to identify abuses but also to avoid false or wrong accusations", the court said.

The court said its attempt in the proceeding was to instill in the mind of the government officials as well as the school authorities the need to evolve a more functional and authoritative procedure to create awareness of not just the provisions of POCSO Act but also to evolve a methodology to impart in a systematic manner the ill-effects of sexual offences.

This must include methods for identifying instances of sexual offences, means to prevent the commission of such crimes and other allied issues, it said.

The court said the alarming rise in the number of sexual offences committed against school children requires introspection.

"Many a time, the perpetrators are youngsters. Young children indulge in such offending acts for manifold reasons varying from pre-planned crimes to natural inquisitiveness of adolescence and some arising out of amorous relationships," it said.

"At times the sexual acts are committed with the belief that the consent of both partners is sufficient to absolve them from the crime. By the time they realise their assumptions to be mistaken notions, it is too late in the day, and the situation becomes destructive, leading to very inconvenient results and beyond any remedial measures", the court said.

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