Smart cities have to be safe for women and children

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Bengaluru: The Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) has a set of recommendations on how smart cities can be made safe for women and children. These include better lighting, safe school buildings and well-lit toilets.

Speaking on the sidelines of the consultation on Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act 2012 in Bengaluru on Saturday, Rashmi Saxena Sahni, Joint Secretary, MWCD said that the ministry had sent the recommendations to the Ministry of Urban Development.

The objective of the mission is to promote cities that have good infrastructure and enable residents enjoy a good quality of life.

During the programme, Ms. Sahni pointed out that POCSO is a robust legislation and the challenge lay in implementation. There is a need for various stakeholders to be more sensitive in such cases.

Member of Parliament Rajeev Chandrasekhar spoke about the ordeal of a two-year-old child who was allegedly raped by a school bus driver in the premises of a play school in January 2014. Despite POCSO Act stating that the trial should be completed in a year, the victim and her family continue to wait for justice. “The child’s parents approached me for help. I called a minister who asked why the mother goes to work leaving the child in a play school,” he said while explaining how the National Coalition to Protect our children (NCPOC) was formed.

He also pointed out that low conviction rates for crimes pertaining to child sexual abuse perpetuate the myth that crimes are not being committed.

Several other speakers also emphasised on how the child should not be re-victimised by recording multiple statements to the police, judiciary, Child Welfare Committee, special courts.

POCSO case: ‘How did principal get bail?’

Member of Parliament Rajeev Chandrasekhar sought an investigation into how the principal of a city-based CBSE school was granted bail in a day after being arrested on the charge of sexually harassing a student. He pointed out that if the principal is out on bail, he could intimidate the students, which could have an adverse effect on the investigation.

The police are recording the statement of teachers and students, and are in the process of seeking legal opinion over the principal violating bail conditions.

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