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Child Abuse Case – Play-school Teacher Sentenced to 1 Year Jail Term by The Children’s Court

In one of the Landmark Judgement, The Goa Children’s Court has sentenced one Eliza Fernandes, a teacher of a playschool for torturing a two and half-year-old child in Panaji to undergo simple imprisonment for the period of 1 year and also to pay the fine of rupees one lakh. According to the sources, the convicted person was abusing the two and half-year-old child in the play school by slapping on his face, hands and also by twisting his ears and pinching on his legs thereby subjecting him to corporal punishment in school.

This may be the trend setting judgment which has taken against the misdeeds of a teacher. Normally many child abuse cases do not reach to the courts and the ones which manage to reach to court does not reach to the justice, as, proving the child abuse in the court is very difficult. In this case, the teacher Eliza Fernandes was accused of physically and psychologically abusing the minor boy by slapping him on the face and torturing the boy by various other means thus causing the boy to undergo the physical and mental trauma. The physical abuse of the teacher is termed in the court as corporal punishment in school.

According to the sources, the incident of physical torture took place in 2012. The president of the children’s court, Vandana Tendulkar had held the accused convicted for “breached the trust of the ‘child’ in her care, as well as his parents’’. According to her observations, the teachers are considered as second parents to the child in their custody. “As rightly argued on behalf of the prosecution, teachers are the second parents of the students, who are left in their custody by their parents with the confidence that their children are safe and secure with the teachers. The age of victim boy, in this case, was just two-and-a-half-year-old, which is a very tender age,” she observed.      

According to the accused, the boy was speaking in Marathi and she did not interact with him as she was unable to converse in that language. “Such statement of accused indirectly reveals her disliking for the victim boy as language should not have been a barrier to the teacher of a playschool to interact with her student,” the court observed.     

It further observed that the boy stated in clear terms that the accused used to punch him, slap him and pull his ears for small mistakes. On one occasion, he was assaulted badly by the teacher on his cheeks and hands. The trauma was such that he couldn’t disclose this to his father when dropped home. He would also return home with the woolen cap covering his ears and cheeks which he would normally wear while going to the school. It was only when his grandmother splashed water on his face that he cried out in pain and disclosed what had happened. The prosecution examined seven witnesses in the case. 

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The accused Ms. Fernandes has been convicted under Section 8 (1) r/w Sections 4(12) and 2(m)(i), punishable under Section 8 (2) of Goa Children’s Act, 2003. The above case is self-explanatory as what kind of trauma the small boy has gone through while in the play school. The parents leave their small children in the play school in the custody of teachers as they need to work, but if the teachers become the devil than the punishment is a must. This case may become the first step towards sending the loud and clear message out that, the child abusers in whatever form it may be, will not be spared. If you wish to leave your comments and suggestions on this serious issue, please go ahead and write in in your comments.

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