-First District in India to focus on deterring demand
~In a first, Meerut ADGlaunches handbook on sex-crimes against children by prosecuting sex buyers of children under the POCSO Act~
~Police officials advised to work towards high conviction to scare potential offenders~
18 January 2019: Meerut zone Police, led by Mr. Prashant Kumar, Additional Director General (ADG) of Police along with veteran ex-IPS officer and Chair Professor Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Dr. PM Nairtoday launched Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for Police with specific focus on deterring demandto combat crimes of Commercial Sexual Exploitation (CSE) of children by prosecuting ‘customers’ under the Meerut Focused Task Unit (FTU) launched byHonorable Lok Sabha MP, Shri Rajendra Agrawal.
The Standard Operating Procedure is first of its kind tool developed for the law enforcement agencies, mandates the police to register cases of child sex trafficking under POCSO, in addition to applicable IPC against perpetrators who demand children and minors for commercial sex.
According to the handbook, it is essential for the Police to have a preliminary assessment of age of the rescued person, as children must be produced before Child Welfare Committee (CWC), so that victims can help trace the ‘customer’ involved in the crime with the help of appropriate counselors.
The Additional Director General of Meerut Zone said, “the objectives for the development of the Standard Operating Procedures is to provide guidance on effective and child-friendly handling of child victims or witnesses of crime and promote a framework for collaboration with key administrative and non-governmental agencies, who support police efforts to protect children and prosecute offenders of CSE. The Meerut zone Police shall ensure that we prosecute every offender who violates a minor under POCSO.”
Men who buy sex from children are not arrested because the focus is always on traffickers. When in fact, it is the demand of ‘raping a child’ that is met. To focus more on ‘customers’, it is critical to create training programs for Police on strong intelligence mechanisms, and effective prosecution against ‘customers’, along with documentation of the training outcomes.
Given the complexity of cases pertaining to child sex trafficking of children, the Meerut Police administration will see to it that SOPs reach all relevant police personnel along with requisite training and operational support to ensure not a single violator of children goes unpunished.Mr. Kumar mentioned that the SOPs apply to all Meerut Police officers, includingAnti-Human Trafficking Unit (AHTU), investigating officer, supervisors and senior police in administrative positions.
Dr Nair, the technical expert behind the SOP mentioned, “This unique drive to punish the so-called “customers”who with all the freedom, sexually violate our children has tremendous potential to tackle this menace. The launch of these SOPs can go a long way in ensuring results, with many children being saved from this terrible fate.”
The FTU since its launch has conducted several raids against offenders of child sex trafficking and discussed strategies which could curb demand for children in CSE. Some of the strategies include prosecution of the ‘end client’ under POCSO, naming and shaming of perpetrators and a strong public awareness campaign by police and women and child development department to instill fear in men who intend to purchase sex from children.