A partner organisation of UNICEF steps in to push the probe to its natural conclusion
Late on Tuesday evening, the state government transferred the Chief Educational Officer of Coimbatore district. CEO Ayyanan will now be the CEO of Namakkal district.
This comes in the wake of a case of 11 minor girls studying in 4th and 5th standard of a government school near Kinathukidavu complaining to their parents about sexual harassment at the hands of their headmaster.
Parents of the victims allege that the police and the district school education authorities did not take their complaints seriously but instead shielded the headmaster.
The Lede has in its possession a copy of a notarised affidavit signed by a parent of one of the victims.
In this, curiously, it is stated that the parents and the victim have made “false allegations” about the headmaster who was “in reality, punishing their wards for not performing well at school”.
The affidavit says that the parents had, without asking their children, “believed the words of others” and jumped to the conclusion that the headmaster had indulged in illegal activities.
It also states that the headmaster was in reality “a good man”. The affidavit asks the police not to take action upon their complaint and also promises that the parents “will not complain in court”.
This, according to the affidavit, was being done to “secure the future” of the parent’s child.
Enquiries revealed that the parents were made to sign this affidavit by a police personnel at the Negamam police station.
The Lede is investigating this and we will bring you more details shortly.
Meanwhile, seeing The Lede’s report on the issue, A Devaneyan, Director of Thozhamai, a partner organisation with the UNICEF, which works in the field of child rights and child protection swung into action and contacted the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights.
“They have asked for a report from the SP, the Collector and the CEO. We need to ensure that this case reaches its logical conclusion and is not dropped midway. Personally, I want to ensure that every authority does not go and question the children and their families. Only one body should enquire into this issue. Otherwise there is a danger that these children will drop out from school entirely. Authorities will tend to suspend and transfer the headmaster in such cases. I feel he should be dismissed entirely and not just suspended,” said Devaneyan.
Devaneyan pointed to Government Order number 121 issued in 2012 by the School Education Department of Tamil Nadu. In this, the way forward is very clear – any teacher indulging in acts of sexual harassment should get his/her teaching certificate cancelled so that he/she cannot work with children any longer.
The GO also recommends removal of the teacher and not suspension or transfer.
“Strong sections should be used against the perpetrators so that the case does not collapse going forward,” said Devaneyan.
There is no dearth of authorities that deal exclusively with children and child protection in every district but these do not proactively conduct awareness campaigns about child sexual abuse, laments Devaneyan. The issue could be due to lack of funds or just simply a lack of motivation, he adds.
“District authorities which are meant to protect children and create awareness about child rights only kick into action after the crime has been committed,” he said.
Devaneyan listed out the authorities in each district meant to protect children.
Child Welfare Committee: 5 members
Juvenile Justice Board: 3 members
District Child Protection Unit: 12 members
Childline: 12 members
Crime against women and children: 1 additional SP
Child welfare police officer: 1 sub inspector per station
Child marriage prevention officer: 1 police personnel
Anti-human trafficking unit: 1 police personnel
Child labour: 1 police personnel
National Child Labour Project: Dependent on population density in the district; Coimbatore has 5 members
“They have to work well, work independently and they need budget for programs. All of these teams need to come together, coordinate and follow the case to the end. This Kinathukidavu case needs to be followed until the accused gets jailed,” he said.