MARGAO: President of Bailancho Ekvott Auda Viegas while making a fervent plea to make Goa safe for children said good laws like Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act and Goa Children’s Act are not implemented properly due to pressure from society and most often from the victim’s family.
Admitting that children are curious by nature and likely to get tempted by anything, she said it was important to give them sexual education and teach them about their body and the changes it is going through besides also teaching them about safe sex.
“Because of the nature of the topic, parents do not impart sex education and expect that to be handled by the school, which unfortunately expects the parents to do it as a result of which the poor child is thrown to the mercy of the wolves in society,” Viegas said.
She also questioned the atmosphere in most schools and wondered whether they are really children friendly. “Are the CCTV cameras that are mandatory placed at proper places and are they monitored? Are there complaint boxes or books where the children can fearlessly complain about anything disturbing them?” she asked.
She also lamented the public interference in matters involving children where people come in support of the villain and target the victim child who is then forced into silence. “Are we giving our children the opportunity to form their own opinion and then liberty to express that opinion is a question that all should ask,” Viegas said.
She said that the authorities do not even implement the Goa Children’s Act that gives a lot of protection to children. “Under the Act every manager of a hotel is supposed to inform the nearest police station when anybody comes to their premises with a child even if it is their own child. How many hotels have reported such things to the police” she asked.
Besides, in recent times, teenage girls though minors elope and live with the family of the so called boy friend which is also prohibited under the Goa Children’s Act. As per the law nobody can keep any minor child other than their blood relative in their house.
“There have been so many cases where the girl has lived with the boy and his family and police have not booked the boy’s parents for harbouring a minor girl who is not related to them,” she said disclosing that in the last two years she has come across 50 such cases.
“The parents too do not want to press charges under the excuse that the family name or the girl’s future will be affected when in reality the whole world knows about what has happened and the ensuing gossip would be more damaging than standing for your rights and punishing the guilty,” she said.
Viegas said it was time for the police to implement the laws meant to protect the children properly and stringently. “Once a boy’s family is penalized for harbouring the minor girl in their house, people will realize the repercussions and this modern trend may well end,” she said.
A senior police officer speaking on condition of anonymity admitted that the person harbouring a minor girl in the house is generally not booked because of pressure and request from the victim’s family who do not wish to drag the matter further.
“Very often the parents are happy that the girl has returned home and do not wish to penalize the family with whom she lived,” he said adding that the victim’s parents do not even lodge a missing complaint which in case of minor automatically converts into a kidnapping case.