This article on POCSO Act 2012 is written by Aishwarya from Faculty of Law, The ICFAI University , Dehradun.
Tears and silence are memories of many children who are sexually abused. Child sexual abuse has become an epidemic which is spreading all over the society either higher class or, lower class and attacking the younger ones. Pain and tissue injury can heal with the passage of time, but psychological and medical consequences still leave scars on individual life.
It reflects itself in different forms, including physical and psychological aggression, rape and sexual abuse, and takes place at home, at neighborhoods, at school, at work and in legal and child protection institutions. Abuse tends to be transmitted from one generation to the next, and the individuals most often responsible are parents or other adult members of the household. India is the second largest child population in the world, 42% of India’s total population is below eighteen years. Therefore the Protection of Children from Sexual Abuse Act, 2012 was drafted.
The objective of the Act is to save the children from being sexually abused and punish and create fear in the hearts of the offenders. This act also lay guideline for police, committee and courts, that, how they have to deal with rape victim and what procedure to be followed .
MYTHS ABOUT CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE
MYTH 1- It is a rare thing!
MYTH 2- It occurs only in western countries!
MYTH 3- In INDIA it happens only in slums!
MYTH 4- Only girls are affected by child sexual abuse!
MYTH 5- It happens only to children belonging to troubled or broken families!
MYTH 6- People who abuse children sexually are generally a stranger to the child!
EFFECTS OF CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE
- Most of the children quietly suffers and don’t talk about this. Child sexual abuse negatively causing:-
- Shame, guilt and anger.
- Constant illness.
- Constant fear.
- Not able to trust anyone further.
- They are withdrawn by the society.
- No able to come out from deadly incident.
- Leave scars for lifetime.
- Future relationship remains unstable.
POCSO ACT ,2012
The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act) 2012 was formulated in order to effectively address sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children. The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 received the President’s assent on 19th June 2012 and was notified in the Gazette of India on 20th June, 2012. The Act defines a child as any person below eighteen years of age. It defines different forms of sexual abuse including 1) penetrative assault 2) 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.
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, such as obtaining emergency medical treatment for the child and placing the child in a shelter home, and bringing the matter in front of the Child welfare committee.
The Act further makes provisions for
- Avoiding the re-victimization of the child at the hands of the judicial system.
- It provides for special courts that conduct the trial in-camera and without revealing the identity of the.
- Above all, the Act stipulates that a case of child sexual abuse must be disposed of within one year from the date the offence is reported.
- 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 or a fine or both.
Need for POCSO Act, 2012
Apart from framing several statutes, there still exist certain loopholes which were unable to cover provisions related to child sexual abuse
- Existing laws (Indian Penal Code (IPC), Information Technology Act, 2000 and Juvenile Justice Act, 2000) not enough to address sexual offences.
- No specific provisions or laws for dealing with sexual abuse of male children.
- Section 375 that defines rape.
- Section 376 deals with rape committed with girl , it does specifies age.
- The other IPC provisions that are invoked is relating to unnatural practices is Section 377. This section does not covers forcible sex with a boy amount to rape and IPC is silent under this situation.
- Under Section 67 of the Information Technology Act, 2000, publication and transmission of pornography through the internet is an offence
- Child defined as any person below 18 year of age.
- Clear description and definition of offence.
- Punishment given as per gravity of offence.
- Speedy Trial to be conducted.
- Compensation to victim.
Purpose of the Act
- Provide protection to all children from the offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography.
- Child defined as any person below the age of 18 years.
Provisions of POCSO
- Police officers must bring every case to the attention of the Child Welfare Committee within 24 hours of receiving a report.
- They must also be in plain clothes while recording the minor’s statement so as to not appear intimidating.
- The statement must be recorded in a place chosen by the minor, in the presence of a person that he/she trusts.
- The medico-legal examination for the collection of forensic evidence must be conducted only by a female doctor, in the presence of a person that the minor trusts.
Power of court and procedure followed thereof:
- Female children should looked after by lady doctor.
- Special courts conduct trial in camera without revealing child identity.
- At night no child should be detained in the police station.
- The statement of child to be recorded as to spoken by child.
- Child not to be called frequently to testify.
- “Parliament passes bill to protect children from sexual abuse”. NDTV. May 22, 2012.
- The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 Kerala Medico-legal Society website.Law for Protecting Children from Sexual Offences 
- “The sounds of silence: Child sexual abuse in India”. The Morung Express. Retrieved 14 August 2014.
- “Need stringent laws to curb child sexual abuse: Tirath”. News.in.msn.com. 2012-03-053 March 2012. Retrieved 14 May 2012. Check date values in