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Govt’s portal for filing child abuse complaints needs drastic tweaks

The government of India has now set up an online and mobile helpline to help child victims of cyber crimes and sexual harassment to file complaints. To file complaints online, victims (and parents, guardians, relatives close to the victim) will have to head to this page or register their complaints via email at pocsoebox-ncpcr@gov.in or mobile no: 9868235077. Such complaints will be prosecuted under The Protection Of Children From Sexual Offences Act (POSCO).

The government claims that around 134 million children have access to mobile phones along with Internet access, and is targeted at these users. It is important to note that online portal named “POCSO e-box” and was initially launched last year. As per a government press statement, the online and the mobile portal will now include complaints like cyber bullying, cyber stalking, morphing of images, and child pornography apart from sexual assault.

Online complaint portal requires renovation

However, there are shortcomings regarding user-friendliness of the online portal since the original complaint page itself is buried under two different pages. The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) website features the “e-box” complaint below the user’s point of view, requiring them to scroll down. This makes it difficult for users to identify the “e-box” button in the first place. On clicking the button, the website redirects users to an animated YouTube video in Hindi, assuring the user that his/her complaint will be heard. Again, the user has to scroll down to find the “Press Here” button, which finally redirects the user to the intended complaint page.

The complaint page itself doesn’t function as it’s supposed. The website asks the user to select from a list of harassment that the victim faced, in order to point out the nature of the complaint. But the selection only has a tiny checkbox which is barely visible. And the entire website is available only in Hindi and English. MediaNama also verified the mobile number given on the government press release. But unlike the dysfunctional website, the officer at the other seemed well trained to deal with complaints.

MediaNama’s Take: Firstly, we would like to point out that, the entire POSCO e-box needs a design and UI upgrade to make it user-friendly and more approachable. The complaint page needs to be less cluttered and should start accepting complaints on the first click and not after two internal page re-directions. The explanatory video can be featured beside the complaint form. It is also vital that such complaint portals are available to users in their local language, without which the purpose of the complaint portal becomes nullified.

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Other govt initiatives to curb child abuse and sexual assault

­- A National Alliance against online child sexual abuse was formed by the ministry of women and child development in January. This was in response to a consultation by the same ministry which sought to bring a common definition of child pornography, including amending sections of the IT Act and POSCO.

-In December 2015, the Supreme Court sought the central government’s view on setting up a pan-India agency which would look into increased proliferation of rape videos and child pornography shared via WhatsApp and Facebook groups.

Note that apart from government initiatives, there is also private efforts to curb child abuse online. A similar online portal to file complaints was launched by Aarambh India in September 2016.

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