Mumbai Court: Appoint women guards to keep watch on public toilets to avoid harassment of minors, women

By | May 13, 2022

A Sessions Court at Dindoshi in Mumbai recently suggested that women guards should be stationed outside public toilets to avoid incidents of harassment of kids and women who use such facility

The Special Judge under the Protection of Children against Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act) was dealing with a case in which a 7-year-old girl had been sexually assaulted by a 21-year-old around the public toilet of the slum where the minor resided and the applicant worked.

Additional Sessions Judge HC Shende commented on the plight of young kids staying in slums of Mumbai and who are compelled to use government public toilets located at a distance from their residence.

The judge reasoned that in a metro city like Mumbai, with space issues, the slums had ‘match-box’ like houses. In order to utilise spaces, people opt to use public toilets situated at some distance from their homes.

The problem arise when children were required to use those alone, making them easy target for assault which could leave a deep scar on them, the judge observed in the order.

Hence, he suggested that there ought to be some supervision near such toilets.

“…when small kids go to use these toilets, some trustworthy person shall accompany to them. At least a lady watchman needs to appoint at the said public toilet used by women and particularly minor children,” the judge suggested.

Harassment, he said, is a traumatic experience and also causes “mental harassment to the kids and such incidents are increasing rapidly so the parents must take care of it while sending their kids to the public toilet to avoid further harm”.

The prosecution case was that the minor, who lives in a slum, had gone out in the afternoon to use the public toilet, a little distance from her house.

She claimed that the accused had lifted her and kissed on her lips. When she asked him to leave, he purportedly threatened to throw her out of the toilet.

When the girl’s father went hunting for the accused and found him, the minor confirmed his identity.

He was charged with Section 354 (outraging modesty of a woman), Section 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Sections 9 and 10 (aggravated sexual assault) of the POCSO Act.

The accused denied the allegations against him.

The prosecution examined 6 witnesses who testified they had seen the minor go home crying which corroborated the statement of the victim.

On the testimony of victim, the judge found that there were no material discrepancies to disregard it.

Additionally, the judge also noted that the accused had stated under Section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure that he had merely lifted her and kept her down.

This statement of his, established that he was present at the spot near the toilet at the relevant time with the girl, the judge noted.

The accused was convicted under all sections charged and was sentenced to five years rigorous imprisonment with payment of fine.

The girl was also directed to be compensated with ₹10,000 under Section 357 of CrPC.

[Read Judgment]