Goa disability rights group calls for greater police sensitisation after growing instances of sexual abuse
Disability rights groups in Goa have written to higher level police authorities urging that sensitisation and awareness programmes be conducted across the police force after two instances of sexual abuse against people with disabilities were reported in the span of a week.
Two instances of sexual abuse against people with disabilities have been reported in North Goa, both within the timeline of one week.
The first instance of a 21-year-old woman with intellectual disability was reported from Mapusa, while the second was of a 13-year-old child with dyslexia is from Porvorim.
The alleged accused in both cases were identified by the survivors and are in custody. They have been charged under various sections including Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, Section 8 of Goa Children’s Act as well as Section 92 of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPWD) Act 2016.
Alleged accused in custody
Both the cases have taken place in areas in proximity. The accused in one case is a hotelier’s son who is now in custody and the other alleged accused is a migrant worker. Initially Section 92 of RPWD Act was not imposed on them and we raised a demand for that with the higher-level police officials after which this has been done. – Avelino D’Sa, President, Disability Rights Association Goa
Alarmed by the instances, local disability rights groups have called upon senior police authorities to sensitise the force across all levels. In a letter to the Director General of Police (DGP), Goa, they have asked for certain mechanisms to be put in place.
Prevention measures suggested
- Training of police staff on RPWD Act and Mental Health Act 2017. – This is yet to be done over three years after the laws came into place.
- Details of offences registered by and against people with disabilities.
“As India is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities this information is very critical for data reporting”, says the letter by Disability Rights Association Goa (DRAG). “Hence we request you to direct your officers to maintain separate records of offences by and against persons with disability”.
Another critical input in the letter is the need for sign language training for police staff. At present not a single member of the Goa Police knows ISL. In a state with over 3,000 people with hearing impairments, this is a huge lapse.
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