Cops Turn Friends! Odisha Government Sets Example With Launch Of Child-Friendly Police Stations

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Cops Turn Friends! Odisha Government Sets Example With Launch Of Child-Friendly Police Stations

Inaugurating one-of-its-kind child-friendly police station across 16 stations, the Odisha government has set an example by creating a fear-free environment for minors to approach police officials.

As a part of the 5T (teamwork, technology, transparency, transformation and time limit) initiative undertaken by the Odisha government, the state inaugurated child-friendly spaces across 16 police stations along with a Sampark Help Desk. The larger objective of these initiatives was to facilitate a space that makes minors feel free and comfortable while lodging complaints with the police or even approaching them over their concerns.

The initiative has been a welcoming move towards the changing image of a police force moulded for the citizens. Over the ages, people, especially children, had fear attached to police figures and often hesitated to approach them. This transformation will positively impact the community and pave the way for a collaborative relationship between people and the police.

Animated Storybooks To Recreational Corners

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik declared the opening of 16 child-friendly police stations and a Sampark Help Desk on November 1. Adding on to this, he said that 18 more such child-friendly police stations would soon begin functioning in the state.

The current facilities have been set up across the Crime Against Women and Children Wing (CAW&CWs) in Bhubaneswar, Jagatsinghpur, Padmapur, Jajpur Road, Jharsuguda, Nayagarh, Aska, Soro, Bhawanipatna Sadar, Rairangpur, Deogarh, Rourkela, Dhenkanal, Keonjhar, Nalco, and Binika police stations of the state.

Speaking about the initiative, IPS ADG CAW&CW Rekha Lohani conveyed that they are developing similar projects with a view to providing a child-friendly atmosphere. Elaborating on the measures undertaken, she said that the 16 police stations had changed their amenities and ambience to facilitate a friendly environment.

A report by NDTV quoted Lohani saying that "their interiors are painted to attract the children and are equipped with soft toys, a library having animated storybooks, swings for children, washrooms, separate breastfeeding corner for lactating mothers, recreation means like TV etc."

This way, minors would feel a lot more comfortable in lodging complaints or approaching the police in general. It would ease their fear and mental pressure of visiting the police stations to a great extent and enable the police to help them seek justice. Adding on to the same, the minister of state for home said, "The children will get books and newspapers at the police stations while the names and phone numbers of the child welfare officers will be prominently displayed in the police stations."

'Sampark' To Help Address Crimes Against Women

In addition to the child-friendly initiative, a help desk by the name "Sampark" has been launched with technical collaboration from the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF). The objective behind the helpline is to address issues of gender violence by 'providing psychosocial support to the victim of sexual violence' who would be facing tremendous trauma post the incident.

The support system would connect the victim to various other support agencies in the district, such as the DCPU, DSWO, CWC, Childline, One Stop Centres, district mental health professionals, and so on. This way, they hope to enable a safe space for the victims while also keeping them informed of their rights and entitlements in their journey to seek justice.

Similarly, officials from the police stations have been directed to educate and counsel children about the available legal provisions under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, Immoral Trafficking (Prevention) Act, Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, and so on.

Creating familiarity with the legal provisions will help vulnerable groups to approach the legal system when their rights are violated. Lohani conveyed that the state has already adopted measures to look into the short-term augmentation of the initiatives and scale up the capacity to cater to the requirements of these groups.

Also Read: Promising Future! Gender-Positive Curriculum To Be Introduced In Odisha Government Schools

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Writer : Laxmi Mohan Kumar
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