+ Read in Tamilதமிழ்நாட்டைச் சேர்ந்த சட்டரீதியான தொழில்நுட்ப ஸ்டார்ட்அப் PoSH @ The Settlement Table POCSO சட்டத்தின் மூலம் குழந்தைகளுக்கு பாதுகாப்பான பள்ளிச் சூழ்நிலை உருவாக்குகிறது
PoSH @ The Settlement Table பள்ளிகள் மற்றும் கல்லூரிகளில் அதிகரிக்கின்ற குழந்தைகள் மீதான பாலியல் வன்முறை மற்றும் அத்துமீறல்களுக்கு எதிராக போராடி வருகிறது. அது POSCO சட்டத்தின் மூலம் கல்வி நிறுவனங்களை இணங்கச் செய்வதன் மூலம் குழந்தைகளுக்கு கற்றலுக்கான சிறந்த பாதுகாப்பான சூழலை உருவாக்குகிறது.
A decade of POCSO – The fight against child sexual offenses
In 2022, an analysis, titled ‘A Decade of POCSO’, was undertaken by the Justice, Access and Lowering Delays in India (JALDI) Initiative at Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, with the support of the Data Evidence for Justice Reform (DE JURE) program at the World Bank which published several key findings of the POSCO act. Before we deal briefly with the report, let’s understand what the POSCO Act is all about. In 2012, the Indian parliament, for the first time, enacted landmark legislation that comprehensively dealt with the sensitive and serious issue of sexual offenses against children. The act ‘The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act’, or simply POCSO, is aimed not only to mete out punishment for offenses but also to establish a system that supports the victims, with improved methods for apprehending offenders.
The comprehensive report, which is freely available online, and worth a read, lists out the key findings of India’s historic child abuse legislation, quality of justice under POCSO, gaps in implementation, performance of various Indian states with respect to the act, its salient features and amendment, besides several recommendations to strengthen its implementation everywhere.
Is your school/college or educational institution POSCO compliant?
Though sexual offense against children is a reflection of the complete degeneration of moral values in today’s society, it simply cannot be brushed down the carpet, as children who have been sexually abused may undergo a range of emotional and behavioral disorders, with some nothing short of trauma. This is precisely the reason why Shuvethram Ragupathy, an experienced techie who wanted to turn the situation around by helping schools and institutions create a safe, secure, inclusive, and legally compliant environment through PoSH @ The Settlement Table, a legal tech startup started by him alongside Adv. Poorvaja Ragupathy. This startup helps secure business organizations and educational institutions against sexual harassment and other costs associated with it. Partly funded by UN Women, the startup founded in 2022, is supported by a team of premium law school professionals, a data scientist, and a senior developer.
PoSH @ The Settlement Table taking the fight head on through POSCO
One of the founders of this legal-tech startup, Shuvethram has handled civil, IPR and arbitration matters particularly in relation to corporate and commercial disputes, over the past several years, under prominent senior lawyers. He cites that lack of awareness of POCSO in schools is the key factor for the increasing number of child sexual violence and abuse cases. He adds, “Increased POCSO cases, unregulated actions against teachers, and lack of awareness on private school mandates affect children’s safety and mental health, create distress among parents, and thereby negatively impact the school’s reputation. That is why we facilitate schools to be guided by our team of experts for compliance, inclusivity, and legal advisory that mandates POSCO.” This seems to be compliance with general measures, but he admits that it is easier said than done.
Lack of awareness of POCSO in schools is the key factor for the increasing number of child sexual violence and abuse cases everywhere.Shuvethram Ragupathy, Founder, PoSH @ The Settlement Table
POSCO Compliant Process – Services, Schedule & Packages
“It is mandatory that schools constitute and train the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) members to redress matters filed before them”, says Shuvethram. He adds, “Our startup helps them set up the ICC, a committee solely in charge of handling and resolving sexual harassment complaints.” The startup offers a range of related services such as
– Providing legal compliance advice to educational institutions
– Encouraging teacher and student security and safety by adhering to PoSH
– Providing carefully selected, age-appropriate resources and initiatives to advance campus safety and diversity
– Assisting the creation and observance of PoSH and Child Protection policies
– Providing staff and faculty with orientation, awareness, and training programs about sexual abuse
– Planning educational programs that are enjoyable, casting a lasting impact on faculty, staff, and parents
– Performing reviews on a regular basis
– Nominating a Mental Counsellor
He continues, “We understand that one size doesn’t fit all. Therefore, everything we do is customized as per the requirements of the school without compromising on the tenants of the act. For instance, the training schedule will be customized depending on the package the school chooses. Also, the mode of training (virtual or physical) shall be decided by the school.” The orientation and training sessions for schools are scheduled between the months of June and September.
Currently, this legal startup offers three annual packages at different price points viz. Vishaka, Mathura, and Nirbhaya, covering different features and benefits (as discussed above). The transportation and accommodation charges are not included in the package.
Inclusive environment for learning and fun
“I am reminded of one of the famous quotes of Joyce Banda, the former President of Malawi, ‘The seeds of success in every nation on Earth are best planted in women and children.’ Therefore, I consider it our duty to secure school campuses, safeguard our children, especially girls, and provide them with an inclusive culture for learning and fun, free of sexual violence, abuse, and discrimination,” concludes Shuvethram.
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