‘Laws protecting women, children yet to be implemented’

Srinagar—Successive govern­ments over the years have failed to implement several laws protect­ing women and children against sexual harassment.

Official sources told KNS that one such law is protection of chil­dren against sexual offences Act, 2012 (POCSO) was enacted by the government of India in 2012.

It aims to offer protection to children (individuals below the age of 18) from sexual violence including sexual assault, sexual harassment, and the inclusion of children in pornography. The law has been extended through­out the country except in J&K.

“The primary reason as to why this law couldn’t be extend­ed to the state is because child protection mechanism in still in infancy,” an official said.

As per the officials, there are no special courts or child-friendly spac­es for child sexual abuse victims.

The offenders are tried before regular criminal courts, they said. He said that Act also prevents “re-victimization” by adopting child-friendly measures. “The victim doesn’t have to face police person­nel or judiciary at the time of testi­fying,” he added. The State Welfare Department has proposed to es­tablish Child Welfare Committees under Integration Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) in all districts. The initiative aims to provide relief and ensure the protection of vulnerable children. However, the proposal is yet to be implemented on the ground. Similarly, most of the gov­ernment departments in Jammu and Kashmir have failed to consti­tute Internal Complaint Commit­tees (ICCs). The government had directed several times to admin­istrative heads of all departments to constitute ICC to address all complaints of sexual harassment at workplaces and submit action taken report to the government with specific recommendations, in accordance with rules.

General Administration De­partment (GAD) issued orders several times, says that admin­istrative heads of their respec­tive departments shall constitute committees at the state, division­al and district levels.

However so far, most of the government departments have failed to constitute the ICCs de­spite directed by the government.

Over the years, there have been number of times, when women faced harassment at work places.

But most of the time action was not been taken. “We need committees in every college in Jammu and Kashmir,” a woman professor teaching in one of the colleges in Srinagar, said. She said her colleague faced harass­ment once in the college. “When she complained to the principal, she was told that she should in­stead remain silent as there exists no sexual harassment committee, which could investigate the inci­dent,” the official told KNS.

The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 was enacted by the central gov­ernment on December 9, 2013, and under Section 4 (1) of the act, every head of the department is required to constitute an ICC to check sexual

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