The Kerala High Court on Friday directed the Central Board of Secondary Education and state government to ensure that all schools in the state have prevention-oriented programmes on sexual abuse, The Indian Express reported.

Justice Bechu Kurian Thomas told the CBSE and Kerala government to direct schools to include such programmes as a mandatory part of the curriculum. The judge passed the directions while hearing the bail petition of a 23-year-old man accused of raping a 15-year-old girl.

“A prevention-oriented programme on sexual abuse is...a facet of the right to education contemplated under Article 21A of the Constitution of India,” the court said, according to Bar and Bench.

Justice Thomas observed that empowering children to prevent or report abuse is a part of the education process.

“The voice of the victim of sexual abuse should not be suppressed, and it is only through education that the victim can be empowered to speak out,” the judge said. “Similarly, it is education on the punishments for sexual abuse that can prevent or deter possible abusers from indulging in such heinous acts.”

The court told the CBSE and state government to form an expert panel to suggest methods to impart an age-appropriate programme on preventing sexual abuse. The committee should submit its report in six months, and the CBSE and state government should issue orders to implement the sex education programme from the next academic year, the court directed.

“Continuous or repeated awareness sessions about the pernicious effects of sexual offences alone may achieve the desired objective of a drastic reduction in the commission of such crimes,” Justice Thomas said. “...The awareness of the consequences of sexual offences and their ramifications, if imparted timely in the proper manner, can pave the way to prevent the commission of such offence.”

The 15-year-old girl in this case had told the police that she was in a relationship with the man and that they intended to marry each other. The girl also stated that she is pregnant, and refused to terminate her pregnancy.

The High Court had granted bail to the man on June 8. Justice Thomas on Friday confirmed the order.