Adivasis, the early inhabitants of India are still away from mainstream society. They are also subjected to threats on their life and inhabitation through various acts. The POCSO act which has played an effective role in the prevention and protection of children against sexual abuse too is now standing as a threat to the tribal population.
Aneesh vividly remembers the night of October 10 four years ago, when policemen picked him up from his home. The Adivasi, who was 21-year-old then, had just got home from a day at the farm where he worked and was about to leave for his wife Geetha’s house when he was arrested. After registering the arrest, a policeman read out the charges against him. “He told me that the arrest was made under the Pocso [Protection of Children from Sexual Offences ] Act, as I had married a girl below 18 years of age. Besides, [he said] I had raped her and she became pregnant. And I listened in utter disbelief. (Reported – Scroll.in)
As per the 2011 census, the Literacy rate among the tribal population of India is 59 per cent. When the states of our country with good literacy rates face the problem of lack of awareness of government rules, regulations and acts, tribal populations, being vulnerable in all aspects of socio, economic, financial and educational matters are no less the victims. Like Anish, there were hundreds of tribal men arrested in the name of POCSO and on the allegation of rape of their married wife.
Among the tribal, early marriage is a part of their practised tradition standing in conflict with the mainstream laws. The lack of knowledge about the existing stringent act among the people of the tribe has resulted in their arrest. The right to education is a fundamental right as well as a part of the fundamental duty. And so legal awareness is an essential and significant factor to save the ignorant community from committing an offense without knowledge.
In past, India already has a bitter experience of Naxalism, when the tribal community felt their rights were being ignored by the government. Let not our ignored duty of educating the masses threaten the development and upliftment of the tribal community.