POCSO gets a shot in the arm

POCSO gets a shot in the arm

  1.       News

Union ministry of law and justice has ratified a proposal of women and child development ministry to remove the time limit and age limit for reporting cases of sexual abuse among children

POCSO (The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act) Act 2012:

  • The Act had come into force with effect from 14 November, 2012
  • The Act defines a child as any person below 18 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 act committed by a person of trust or authority vis-à-vis the child, like a family member, police officer, teacher, or doctor.
  • The Special Court taking cognizance of the matter should be able to complete trial within one year from the date of taking cognizance of abuse

Important Facts

  1. Need for amendment:
  • Discrepancy in laws: Under Section 468 of CrPC, for any offence, including child abuse, the stipulated time limit for reporting an offence that is punishable by a fine is six months. But no time period forreporting of offences is mentioned in Section 19 of POCSO Act, 2012. Hence the ruling brings clarity on the issue
  • Under-reporting: As per NCRB data, average reporting of rape is 6.3 per 100000 people, while a survey in 2007 revealed that 53% children had been sexually exploited
  • Lack of understanding at tender age:The victim may not have had the mental capability to fully understand until later that what they were going through was a violation of their bodies
  • Remembering the event later: Memories can sometimes remain suppressed until various triggers lead them to resurface
  • Addressing life-long trauma: Often, children dont report such crimes as the perpetrator is a closely known person, thus carrying the trauma of sexual abuse till very late in life. Now, reporting can be done later saving victims from mental agony.
  • Listing the perpetrators:The perpetrators can be added to the public sex offenders list even later in life, which could prevent re-occurrence of similar act
  1. This move should be complemented with measures to help survivors deal with repercussions of reliving the trauma; combat mental health effects; ensure psycho-social rehabilitation in assisting victims to lead a normal life and a similar change must be done for adult women too
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