“Childhood is a promise that is never kept”- Ken Hill.
The POCSO Act, 2012 was instated on 14th November 2012. This deals with sexual offences against children and also protects them from child pornography. Its primary concentration has been on parts which are not included in the Indian Penal Code.
The reason behind the creation of the act
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) as “the involvement of a child in sexual activity that he or she does not fully comprehend, is unable to give informed consent to, or for which the child is not developmentally prepared and cannot give consent, or that violates the laws or social taboos of society…”
According to NCBI report, 37% of the population in India, i.e. below the age of 18 suffers from deprivation of food, shelter and necessities. This makes the children susceptible to the abuse, crime and adverse experience related to childhood.
The issue of sexual abuse of children has gain attention in recent time. Under the act, a person under the age of 18 years is regarded as a child. This act penalizes any sexual offences committed against children. This includes both penetration and non-penetration offences.
A recent systematic review of 55 studies from 24 countries found much heterogeneity in studies in terms of definition and measurement of CSA and concluded that rates of CSA ranged from 8 to 31% for females and from 3 to 17% for males.
Another, reason for the creation of the act was that due to the social norms. The society keeps secrecy when things come down to child sexual abuse because of the fear of dignity and social embarrassment.
Every second child has suffered emotional abuse, while 69% of children have suffered from physical abuse, and 53% of children have suffered from sexual abuse.
In India, CSA is not limited to just girl child but extends its hand to the males as well. The reviewed literature estimates that 4–41% of the girls and 10–55% of the boys in school and college samples have experienced one form (contact, non-contact, forced) of CSA in India. It is also noted that girl child faces more of sexual abuse, whereas males face more psychological and physical abuse.
CHILD PROTECTION POLICIES IN INDIA
The criminal law amendment act of 2013 has recognized several laws related to the sexual offences against children as well as under the Indian Penal Code. This act increased the age of a girl consent to 18 years. Consensual sex with any female under the age of 18 would also be regarded as rape.
The act also enhanced the punishment under section 376 (2)(i). It complies that if the act of rape is committed with a girl child under the age of 16, the accused will be punished with a fine and the minimum ten years of rigorous punishment. This can be extended to life imprisonment.
The Constitution of India under Article 15(3) lays down special provisions for the children. Also, Article 39 of the Constitution directs that it is the responsibility of the state to take care of the children. It lays down a particular measure to ensure that they are not abused or not subject to work because of economic necessities.
CHILDLINE- More than 400 cities and districts in India have now recognized 1098 as the child helpline. This is an active child line which is used to report the child abuse and provides for protection to the children.
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