ARE CHILDREN SAFE IN TODAY’S ERA?
~ Yashika Manchanda
We all almost daily hear about the rape cases or sexual assault cases with small children who are not even aware about these crimes. The innocent children become victims of these severe crimes which somehow deprive them from their childhood. It’s very difficult for a child to forget these experiences which leads some children to depression or even their death. They are unable to overcome from that. A kind of bad side of the society is front of them at a very early age when they are trying to understand the world & people around them. According to a Survey (2013) by UNICEF, approximately 42% of the girls in India experience sexual violence in their lives before being a teenager that means girls below 13 years of age. Around 109 children are sexually abused in India daily as reported in 2018 by National Crime Record Bureau.
“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”
- Nelson Mandela
LAW REGARDING THESE CRIMES
Before 2012, only one act was there regarding child abuse specifically that is Goa Children’s Act, 2003. Sexual abuse with children was also treated under a few sections of the Indian penal code, 1860 that are Section 375 (Rape), Section 354 (Outraging the Modesty of a women), Section 377 (Unnatural Offences). But male victims or same gender sexual abuse victims were not protected under Section 375, the modesty of a male child was also not protected under Section 354 and Section 377 was only applicable to the victims who were penetrated by their attacker’s act. Therefore, there was no significant act to protect children from sexual abuse. In 2012, the Government introduced POCSO ACT specifically for sexual offences against children.
POCSO ACT, 2012
This act is gender neutral which means it is applicable to any person below the age of 18 irrespective of the gender whether a male, female or a transgender. It penalizes offences such as Sexual Assault, penetrative Sexual Assault, Sexual harassment & indulging children in pornographic content. Special emphasis has been made on speedy trial and the act treats an offence as ‘aggravated’ if it is committed by a person in position of authority or trust such as police officers, public servants or a member of security force. This act was amended in 2019 which added provision of death penalty for aggravated penetrative sexual assault and the minimum punishment was modified to 20 years of harsh imprisonment. Child Abuse is the biggest evil for the society and the legislature tried to keep the vulnerable children safer through deterrence created by the provision of capital punishment. Most of the people are still unaware of the law which results in non-registration of the FIR if it is against any public figure. After the Government, it’s now our duty to spread awareness about the laws so that it could help someone. As it is always said that we all can together change the society.
Sources : criminallawstudiesnluj.wordpress.com, blog.forumias.com, indiatoday.in, wikipedia.org
Pictures : slideshare.net, outlookindia.com