According to the National Crime Record Bureau, every day 109 children get sexually abused in some form in India. The reports also state that the figures are increasing every year. Crimes against children are increasing day by day, yet people are reluctant to address this issue. It is a social stigma in Indian society.
The World Health Organization (WHO) states that ”Child abuse or maltreatment constitutes all forms of physical and/or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment or commercial or other exploitation, resulting in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power.”[i]
The Ministry of Women and Child Development enacted the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 in response to the rising incidence of child sexual abuse in India[ii]. The Act recognises and defines various crimes that can be committed against children, irrespective of their gender, the procedure that has to be followed and the punishment for the same.
This commentary explains why the Act was passed in the first place. The features of the POCSO Act, the offences and the punishments mentioned therein and also the 2019 Amendment of the same.
[i] World Health Organization, Report of the Consultation on Child Abuse Prevention; Geneva, (1999) http://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/violence/neglect/en/
[ii] The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences, 2012, No. 32, Acts of Parliament, 2012 (India)