Child abuse is a common and largely ignored practice in India. This practice is now been acknowledged as a heinous criminal offence by the legislature. Historically, Child Sexual Abuse nor was acknowledged as a criminal offence neither was acknowledged as a problem to the society in India. It was only registered as a rape under Indian Penal code, which was the only offence related to the child abuse for decades. To accommodate child sex offense cases, the govt. has brought during a special law, namely, The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012. The POCSO ACT, 2012 has come into force with effect from 14th November, 2012 together with the principles framed thereunder.
ABOUT THE ACT
The POCSO Act, 2012 is a comprehensive law to supply for the protection of youngsters from the offences of statutory offense, molestation and pornography, while safeguarding the interests of the kid at every stage of the judicial process by incorporating child-friendly mechanisms for reporting, recording of evidence, investigation and speedy trial of offences through designated Special Courts.
The said Act defines a child as somebody below eighteen years old, and defines different styles of regulatory offence, including penetrative and non-penetrative assault, as well as sexual harassment and pornography, and deems a statutory offence to be “aggravated” under certain circumstances, like when the abused child is unstable or when the abuse is committed by a person in a very position of trust or authority vis-à-vis the kid, sort of a loved one, policeman, teacher, or doctor those who traffic children for sexual purposes also are punishable under the provisions regarding abetment within the said Act. The POCSO ACT prescribes stringent punishment graded as per the gravity of the offence, with a maximum term of rigorous imprisonment for all times, and fine.
In keeping with the simplest international child protection standards, the said Act also provides for mandatory reporting of sexual offences. This casts an obligation upon an individual 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, fine or both.
Gender Neutral provisions: Under the POCSO ACT, all the provisions are gender-neutral in nature unlike rape under IPC, where victim is always a female and accused is always a male.
Mandatory police verification: The new rules under POCSO ACT include the provision of mandatory police verification of staff in the schools and care homes for the safety of children, procedures to report statutory offence material (pornography) to the police and imparting age-appropriate child rights education amidst others.
Reporting to Special Juvenile Police Unit: For repression of child porn, anyone who has received any pornographic material involving a baby or any other information regarding such pornographic material must report the contents to the Special Juvenile Police Unit or local police, or to the cybercrime portal.
Child protection policy: Under the principles, the State Governments are asked to formulate a baby protection policy supported the principle of zero-tolerance to violence against children, which shall be adopted by all institutions, organizations, or the other agency working with, or coming involved with children.
Periodic training: The Central Government and each government shall provide periodic training including orientation programmes, sensitization workshops and refresher courses to any or all persons coming up-to-date with the kids, to sensitize them about child safety and protection.
Age-appropriate curriculum: The Centre and State Governments are asked to organize age-appropriate educational material and curriculum for youngsters, informing them about various aspects of private safety, including measures to shield their physical and virtual identity and to enforce safeguards to sustain their emotional and mental wellbeing, and preventing and protecting them from sexual offences and reporting mechanisms.
Orientation programme: in line with rules, orientation programmes and intensive courses may be organized for police personnel and forensic experts for building their capacities in their respective roles on an everyday basis.
Background check: Any institution housing children or coming in regular contact with children, including school staff, teachers in crèches and sports academies or the other facility for youngsters must ensure a police verification and background check on a periodic basis as a precaution.
It concludes that the enactment of a legislature is not adequate to prevent and protect children from sexual offences. Proper implementation of the requirements under the act is also needed to be fulfilled. Sensitization and awareness about such offences and providing sex education is equally important to prevent the children from crime. Govt. should not ignore child abuse as it is the biggest crime and malaise in society. Rather it must proactively work to prevent from same.
BY- SAMPADA SHARMA
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