Daily News Analysis

POCSO Act

14th October, 2021 Society

Context:

  • According to rough estimates, around 250 men, 90 per cent of whom belong to various tribal communities, have been charged under section 3 of the POCSO Act in the last nine years in Wayanad for impregnating their minor wives, underlined Rajesh. 

Provision of POSCO act:

  • The POCSO Act was enacted in 2012 and is gender neutral — it recognises that boys can be victims of sexual violence as well. 
  • It defines a child as someone under the age of 18.
  • It also specifically lays down stringent punishment for exposing children to, or using them to create child sexual abuse material.
  • The law lays down the procedures for reporting sexual crimes against children.
  • It places the burden of proof on the accused, following ‘guilty until proven innocent’ unlike the IPC.

 

Data on Child Abuse:

  • Half of the country's children face some form of sexual abuse with 18.3 percent were physically abused and 8.6 percent were sexually abused in 2017.
  • A national estimate of 1,720 children died from abuse and neglect in fiscal year 2017 compared to 1,750 children who died in fiscal year 2016.

 

Challenges with the act:

  • Lack of complaint: Most of the victims experience the terrific social humiliation and feelings of shame and guilt when they report that they are sexually assaulted. It either delays or leave out a no of victims.
  • Lack of awareness: Parents or guardians often do not have the knowledge to safeguard their children either by educating the children about sexual abuse or by being watchful in order to prevent abuse on their children.
  • Poor rate of conviction: POSCO act is plagued by low rate of conviction. It was 14% in 2014 and 18% in 2018.
  • Many states have not complied with the provisions of the act as they have not established the special children courts.
  • The act doesn't cover all aspects of the crime against the children. It doesnt cover cyber bullying and other types of online crime against children. 
  • Ineffective training of the public prosecutors have often led to acquittal of the perpetrator.

Way Forward:

  • More awareness need to be generated in order to make more children come forward for their child abuse.
  • Proper training of police, forensic staff and public prosecutors need to be put in place for enhancement o the conviction rate.
  • the introduction of sex education in schools and educating the children about good touch and bad touch is significant. In 2008-09 Parliamentary committee report mentions the introduction of sex education, but it never materialized. It has to be implemented.
  • The Supreme Court issued a direction to set up special courts within 60 days on the districts that are having more than 100 pending POCSO cases. This has to be implemented urgently.

 

Difference between Section 8 of the POCSO Act and Section 354 of IPC:

Section 8 of the POCSO Act

Section 354 of IPC

This section is gender-neutral

This section is only for women and not for male or transgender child

Punishment can be a minimum sentence of 3 years and may extend to the maximum sentence of 5 years

Punishment shall not be less than one year but it may extend to five years