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Kerala to set up committee for early disposal of POCSO cases

Kerala government on Tuesday decided to form a committee headed by the chief secretary to look into cases related to sexual exploitation of children under the Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO).

This comes in the wake of the recent acquittal of three accused in a POCSO case which pertains to the deaths of two sisters who were allegedly sexually abused and killed in Walayar town of Palakkad in 2017.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan chaired a high-level meeting to discuss POCSO cases and decided to form a committee under chief secretary Tom Jose with the aim to ensure efficient handling of cases and their disposal at the earliest.

Members of the committee will include secretaries of home, education, health, social justice, law, SC/ST development departments.

The committee will submit its report to the state government once in two months.

The chief minister said that counseling facilities should be made available for children in all schools and they should be encouraged to speak about any assault, including any inside their houses.

Training will be given to counsellors in this regard and an awareness of the law, he said.

Vijayan added that proper sex education should be included in the school syllabus and directed police and excise authorities to ensure that the sale of alcohol and narcotic substances should be strictly prohibited near schools.

Tuesday's high-level meeting also decided to strengthen the cyber forensic laboratory to help prevent crimes against children.

The chief minister also said that police and social department should work to identify houses where women stay alone (mother and daughters) and such families should be given protection.

Among other points raised in the meeting was about spreading awareness among parents to avoid their children being subjected to any kind of violence.

"Education department should ensure this and the PTA meetings in schools should be used for this also the child welfare officers in every police station must be in regular contact with schools in their area," Vijayan said.

He said that more funds will be allowed to set up POCSO courts to dispose of cases at the earliest.

Vijayan said that consideration should be given when children come with complaints and to handle them psychologically.