Published: 10th June 2022
Kerala High Court seeks views of state gov't on including POCSO provisions in school curriculum
A meaningful life could practically be snuffed out by an immature or negligent act arising out of human curiosity or biological cravings
It was observed by the Kerala High Court that there was an urgent need to spread awareness about heinous crimes, including rape, among school children. Regarding the same, it sought the views of the Government of Kerala on including provisions of the POCSO Act in the curriculum.
Noting the rise in sexual offences that are committed against school children, Justice Bechu Kurian Thomas shared on Wednesday, June 8, that perpetrators were either students or youngsters and the crime was a "result of relationships that went beyond platonic love" out of biological inquisitiveness of adolescence.
It was observed by the court that young children, with gender no bar, partake in such acts without understanding the drastic consequences awaiting them. The amendments brought to the Indian Penal Code and the enactment of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012, envisaged very harsh consequences for such offensive acts.
But unfortunately, the statutes did not differentiate between the conservative concept of the term rape and the sexual interactions arising out of pure affection and biological changes, the court said.
"The statutes did not contemplate the biological inquisitiveness of adolescence and treat all 'intrusions' on bodily autonomy, whether by consent or otherwise, as rape for a certain age group of victims," observed the court.
By the time the children realise the consequences, it would be too late. A meaningful life could practically be snuffed out by an immature or negligent act arising out of human curiosity or biological cravings, which psychologists regard as natural, the court said.
However, the statutory diktat, on the scope and purport of the terms sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault and penetrative sexual assault apart from minimum punishments are most often unknown to the students and youths, the court observed.
The educational machinery of the state has "fallen woefully short in imparting the required awareness to the young children about the heinous crimes and its consequences," and the statutes, it observed.
The Government of Kerala was directed by the court to come up with suggestions to spread awareness about heinous crimes, including rape and offences under POCSO Act, and their consequences among school children. The curriculum must prescribe sessions/classes on the provisions of the POCSO Act as well as the amendments brought into section 376 of IPC, the court said.