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Training session for police soon to properly record statements of sexual abuse survivors

India on 09 October 2014
Location : Maharashtra | Source : Times of India.

 Personnel at each of Mumbai's 93 police stations will soon be trained on how to correctly record statements of survivors in cases of rape and child sexual abuse. Vague or incomplete statements adversely impact the case in court. Volunteers of the NGO, Majlis, will conduct these training sessions in the wake of amendments in the law concerning rape and a new legislation introduced to protect children from sexual offences.

Police commissioner Rakesh Maria announced earlier this year that survivors of offences like rape or molestation need not visit police stations to lodge a complaint; a woman police officer will visit the place convenient for the complainant, such as her residence. "It's observed that a junior officer usually goes to record the survivor's statement while the investigation thereafter is conducted by a senior officer. Very few of these junior personnel ever go to court to attend hearings of the case. The new law on protection of children from sexual offences is very descriptive. It is essential that the exact act committed by the accused is put on paper. But some of the junior personnel record vague or incomplete statements. We will train the policemen on how to word their questions correctly," said Audrey D'Mello, programme and administration director, Majlis.

Activists said few police personnel have gone through the new laws in detail. "We run a helpline for state stakeholders and encourage the police to call us if they have queries concerning the new law, such as which sections to apply in a particular case etc. On an average, we receive two calls per day. Personnel ask questions like whether they need to have a particular rank to conduct an identification parade of the accused in a case of child sexual abuse," said D'Mello.

Majlis will provide the police with a check-list to deal with investigation on all fronts. A booklet will be released at a later stage for quick reference. The training sessions will start after the state polls and will be conducted zone-wise.

This is the second phase of Majlis' training for the police force. "Previously, we trained 700 officers in batches of 50, on how to respond to a victim of sexual violence 24 hours later. We showed them judgments where judges made specific observations on the police investigation in a case," said Flavia Agnes, co-founder of Majlis. Maria had issued a three-page circular for the force when the training commenced.

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