One of the salient features of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) (2012) was the setting up of special, child-friendly courts. The courts were to mimic play homes, with toys and quirky interiors, to provide a more relaxing environment for the child and sexual abuse survivor.
On August 5, two such courts were inaugurated in Bengaluru city civil court complex near Mysore Bank Circle. These two are Karnatakaâ€™s first child-friendly courts, one each for Bengaluru urban and rural.
The salient features of these courts include two halls separated by a glass wall which will prevent the child sexual abuse survivor from coming in contact with the accused. This is done so that the child is not intimidated or influenced by the presence or actions of the alleged abuser.
The special courts also provide video conferencing facilities between the court hall and the waiting room, in case the child is not comfortable deposing before the court or if the family/guardians of the child want to see the court proceedings from the waiting room.
The waiting roomâ€™s walls are painted in a welcoming green and pink hues and are also stacked with toys and story books to make the children more comfortable. There is also an attached bathroom and pantry, as well as a refrigerator, microwave oven, and induction stove.
The premises is also equipped with an elevator, which can be used by judges, the survivor and the survivorâ€™s family.
Watch this video of the special courts by Enfold India, an NGO which supports child sexual abuse survivors and their families, here.
While the child-friendly courts are a step in the right direction, Kushi, who works with Enfold told TNM that itâ€™s only one of the aspects of making the trial smooth for the survivors and their families. â€śIt is an excellent initiative that needs to be emulated in other districts too. But we hope that the child-friendly procedures and protocol are also followed, because itâ€™s as important, if not more, as the physical infrastructures,â€ť she says.