Framing of guidelines to prevent sexual abuse of children in the educational institutions
Relying on the data provided to an application filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act by the Delhi government, the HAQ Centre for Child Rights filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Delhi High Court. NGO Pratidhi had filed a RTI application with the Delhi government seeking information about the status of the guidelines as per Rule 31 of the Delhi Juvenile Justice Rules, 2009, which made it mandatory to protect children from sexual abuse.
There is very little data available on sexual abuse in educational institutions, though some incidents have come to light in many parts of the country. Incidents of sexual abuse and subsequent blackmailing by school bus drivers, cleaners, teachers etc. have come to light in the past. Demands have been raised by many NGOs to frame guidelines that could save students from sexual attacks by their own teachers / professors / associate staff of the school.
The Juvenile Justice Act Rules make it mandatory for the government to frame the guidelines for prevention of sexual abuse of children, but no such guidelines have been issued till date either by the Centre or Delhi government. The petitioner argued that despite increasing incidents of sexual abuse of children in institutions being reported and despite there being an urgent need for such guidelines for schools, educational institutions, government have not issued these guidelines as mandated by law. The action is taken against the accused after the incident happens. If uniform guidelines are formulated and enforced in all educational institutions, it would be possible to detect the child abuses cases at an early stage and possibly prevent such cases. It would also improve the monitoring of such cases and lead to a decrease in the incidence of such cases.
A division bench of Chief Justice D. Murugesan and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw of the Delhi High Court have issued notice and sought a response by Dec 5 from the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development and the Delhi government. They have been asked to apprise the High Court of the steps taken for framing guidelines to prevent sexual abuse of children in the educational institutions.