In a letter to Goa police, Victim Assistance Unit (VAU) coordinator Emidio Pinho urged that all police stations be mandated to conduct programmes on safety in schools that come within their respective jurisdiction in the light of increased number of cases reported of eloping, suicide, teenage pregnancies among adolescents in the state.
The letter also urged police to set up anti-human trafficking units (AHTUs) for North and South Goa.
“The latest directive of the Human Rights Commission is to set up AHTUs in each district. These units should be headed by an officer of the rank of police inspector. The requirements of these units are mentioned in the directive issued by the ministry of home affairs from time to time,” he said.
According to the National Family Health Survey, one in four Indian women (26.8 percent) is married before 18, and 7.8 percent of women aged 15 to 19 are pregnant or mothers. The use of contraceptives in married women aged 15-49 years dropped from 56.3 percent to 53.5 percent. While 2.7 percent of boys and 8 percent of girls reported their sexual debut before the age of 15 .
India has 253 million adolescents, more than any other country and equivalent to the combined populations of Japan, Germany and Spain, but the country is not doing enough to ensure that they become productive adults.
The public-health system is not prepared to educate about the sexual and reproductive needs to the adolescents. With sex is itself considered a taboo subject, teaching adolescents about sex education is not seen being considered as a remedy for this growth of teen pregnancies. Lack of sex education, having sex with multiple partners and not using any kind of protection ultimately lead the teens to experience unexpected pregnancies. Specifically in case of Goa, unlimited freedom, nightlife, clubbing, drinks and drugs play a huge role in this case.
VAU coordinator Emidio Pinho also requested that the women’s police station in South Goa be strengthened. He said that women’s police in Panaji had played a very important role, especially in cases of domestic violence. Many families have been united through their intervention, he said. “We request that the women’s police station outpost at Margao be deemed as a police station for South Goa, thereby giving them authority to register offences.”
VAU asked police department for allocation of funds at police stations for children and women. “This fund could be used to provide basic food/refreshment for the victim and their families when they visit the police station and also during the process of investigation. As far as I am aware, PIs, PSIs and LPSIs are spending money from their own pocket,” he said in the letter. “We would request for a suitable amount as deemed fit by your office to be allocated to every police station, including the cybercrime cell and crime branch.