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FACSE and IJM publish Marathi Guidance Booklet on PoCSO Act

Forum Against Child Sexual Exploitation (FACSE), in collaboration with International Justice Mission (IJM), has published an FAQ Guidance Booklet in Marathi, providing information on The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (PoCSO) Act in Maharashtra. Bollywood and Marathi film actor Sonali Kulkarni launched the booklet on 16 November 2016.

Enacted in 2012, the PoCSO Act criminalises offences and stipulates mandatory reporting. As a result, it has helped protect the most vulnerable in society from heinous crimes of assault. Apart from more rigorous penalties for criminals, it also outlines various government schemes that victims can access.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau, after its enactment, 23,817 cases were registered under the PoCSO Act in 2014 and 2015. Additionally, the Law Ministry has reported that there are presently 27,558 cases pending before special PoCSO Courts. With Maharashtra accounting for nearly half the number of cases, there was a growing need to understand the provisions of the Act at the grassroots level.

“The need for the book was realised in 2015 during training programmes initiated by IJM,” said Vidya Apte, founding member of FACSE. “A number of procedural loopholes came to light and thus IJM collaborated with FACSE in compiling the book.”

The information in the Guidance Booklet is presented in question-answer format and ranges from critical definitions on the minority of victims and Child Welfare Committee, to methods of evidence collection, statement registration, medical examinations, the role of the police, and victim aftercare. Apte has provided succinct yet complete answers to each of the 82 questions, providing necessary information in a very accessible way.

“It is the first-of-its-kind reference in Marathi, for practitioners and citizens to understand the PoCSO Act procedures and its applicability,” said Michael Yangad, IJM’s Director of Operations, Mumbai.

Till date nearly 2,000 copies of the Guidance Booklet have been circulated free of charge amongst interested NGOs and government stakeholders. It is the first reference document published in Marathi that can be accessed by police, prosecutors and social workers.

IJM and FACSE hope this information will assist NGOs and government officials in advocating for justice for minor victims of sexual offences. The PDF version of the booklet can also be accessed on IJM’s website in the Research section.