Odisha govt wakes up after NHRC directive to prevent sexual assaults in schools

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government has decided to chalk out plans to prevent sexual assault on students by the school authorities.

The School and Mass Education Department has asked Directorates of Secondary Education and Elementary Education, Odisha Primary Education Programme Authority (OPEPA) and Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyaan (RMSA) to chalk out plans to be taken to prevent such crimes by teachers, headmasters and staff of schools.

The action of the department action came after the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) asked the Chief Secretary to intimate corrective steps being initiated in this regard.

“The Commission is pained to note that the custodian of the children, in the school the teachers and Head Masters/ Principals of the school have been involved in a heinous crime such as sexual harassment of small child in her school,” said NHRC.

The Commission further said that such acts on the part of the custodian of the children not only discourage the children but also the parent to send them to school.

“It also becomes a stumbling block and psychological barrier in their development. Therefore, such heinous crime must be stopped in the schools,” said the commission.

The NHRC had taken cognisance of a case – after a petition was filed by rights activist Subash Mohapatra – over sexual harassment of a 10-year-old girl student of a Government school in Saipriya Nagar of Rayagada by the headmaster in 2013.

Following the NHRC’s notice, the SP had submitted a report stating that the headmaster, Panchanan Palak, was arrested. Later, a detailed report of the School and Mass Education Department showed that Palak was charge sheeted and subsequently, convicted of the crime. He was handed out a three-year imprisonment. The victim and her father, however, had shifted from the area to an unknown destination by that time.

Mohapatra  alleged that a large number of similar cases has been reported from the state where both boys and girls are subjected to such crimes but no corrective measure is taken by the Government.

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