- The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act) 2012was formulated in order to effectively address sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children.
- Role of police:The Act casts the police in the role of child protectors during the investigative process. Thus, the police personnel receiving a report of sexual abuse of a child are given the responsibility of making urgent arrangements for the care and protection of the child
- Safeguards: The Act further makes provisions for avoiding the re-victimisation of the child at the hands of the judicial system. It provides for special courtsthat conduct the trial in-camera and without revealing the identity of the child, in a manner that is as child-friendly as possible.
- Mandatory reporting:The Act also provides for mandatory reporting of sexual offences. This casts a legal duty upon a person who has knowledge that a child has been sexually abused to report the offence; if he fails to do so, he may be punished with six months’ imprisonment and/ or a fine.
- Definitions: The Act defines a child as any person below eighteen years of age. It defines different forms of sexual abuse, including penetrative and non-penetrative assault, as well as sexual harassment and pornography. It deems a sexual assault to be “aggravated” under certain circumstances, such as when the abused child is mentally ill or when the abuse is committed by a person in a position of trust or authority like a family member, police officer, teacher, or doctor.
Impact of the recent amendments:
- The amendment is expected to discourage the trend of child sexual abuse by acting as a deterrent due to strong penal provisions incorporated in the Act.
- It intends to protect the interest of vulnerable children in times of distress and ensures their safety and dignity.
- The amendment is aimed to establish clarity regarding the aspects of child abuse and punishment thereof.
Why is it that despite having POSCO Act, there are so many cases?
- The Indian constitution has safeguarded every person before he or she is punished by the means of fair trial which has led to pendency of cases.
- 2006 survey reveals that 88% children of the total surveyed have been abused by tSheir parents which is not revealed.
- Society is changing fast, exposure and too much interaction leads to gap in understanding each other which may inturn lead to crime by close mates.
- Lack of social awareness among the masses.
- Children find it difficult to understand many advertisements and campaigns related to abuses.
- There is advancement of law but it appears that it has no impact because the number of cases is multiplying.
- Problem with implementation of the law.
- Child protection committees not in place at village level.
- Politicization of rape cases on communal grounds.
- Many of us donot know about POSCO act.
- The rate of conviction under the POSCO act is only 32% as that of past 5 years and pendency is 90%.
- Absence of proper training at village level leads to child abuse.
- Judges donot use the power to announce medical interim compensations to the victims.
- Every case desires media attention equally and not only Unnao and Kathua rape cases.
- Massive awareness should be created among the masses about child’s dignity and about the law in place.
- POSCO Act needs to be part of school syllabus.
- Along with fast track courts, proper infrastructure and judges capacity should be looked upon.
- Need of ground level work.
- Speedy delivery of justice.
- Proper police training and a dedicated children cell at stations as that of a women cell.
- Need of accountability at each and every level.
- Many Indians – men and women – refuse to believe that sexual violence is a serious problem eating away at India’s vitals. It is essential to recognise that the crisis lies in the precise manner in which the existing criminal justice system unfolds.
- Instant medical relief and compensations should be provided to the victim.
- Children should be given a platform and proper environment to speak against such abuse.
- Check on technology.
- Strict action must be taken against the police officer found guilty of obstructing the probe or colluding with perpetrators of such cases.
- Providing sex education to children, which is neglected in India. This makes them more aware of various protective laws, good touch-bad touch et
Society itself will have to take the responsibility of giving it the right direction. Without this, we cannot achieve all the promise that we had as a nation at the time of Independence. We must collectively rise to the occasion and create a safe India for our children.