Analysis of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill 2019
Authored By Harsh Mangal
Keywords: POSCO, Sexual_Offence, Children, Minor.
Children could be the victim of sexual abuse, and actions like these, leaves a painful mental scar for life. We have seen in Kathua Rape Case, how an eight year old girl was abducted, raped and then murdered. We needed strict and rigid laws against such criminal offences. We have come across the cases where children are victims of sexual abuse repetitively, even by their own relatives. Maltreatment of children is an issue of serious concern for law makers, sociologist, and all the citizens.
The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012, has been recently amended, the act seeks to protect children from offences like sexual harassment, sexual assault, and pornography.
This article is a critical analysis of The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill, 2019.
Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was passed by both lower and upper house of the Indian Parliament in order to stop the increasing cases of sexual abuse of children. This bill amends the POCSO Act, 2012 which was originally passed by the Indian Parliament on 22nd May 2012 and came into effect from 14th November 2012.
This act aimed to protect the children who were the victims of sexual abuse, by ensuring speedy trials and giving them speedy justice. The trial process under the regular laws was very time consuming and inconvenient. Hence, this act intended to punish the child offenders faster, and to make this whole process convenient and child friendly, so that there is less mental pressure on the victim. Earlier the child who is the victim of sexual offences has to go through the regular criminal procedure to penalize the offender, which was not at all children friendly and is a very difficult and lengthy process. Now, the main intention of the amendment bill is to make penalties for sexual offences against children under the age of 18 years more strict and rigid.
Features of POCSO Act, 2012
Preliminarily, this act gives the definition of children as any human being below the age of eighteen years. The prime intention of the act was to ensure healthy physical and mental development of a child, which is very important at such an early age.
In this act, offences like penetrative sexual assault were recognized for the first time. This included penis insertion, or any other body part or object into private parts or mouth of a child. This act also criminalized stalking or following the child, passing sexually offensive remarks, and child pornography. This act also ensured the victim legal aid under section 40.
Though, the setback of this act was that no special courts were made to deal with such matters and hence, these offences were dealt by already overburdened regular courts, which made this process time consuming, failing the main motive of the act.
Amendment Bill of 2019
The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was passed by both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. This amendment bill was introduced in Rajya Sabha by the Minister of women and child Development, Ms. Smriti Zubin Irani on 18th July 2019.
This bill provides more strict punishments for sexual offences against children, including death penalty. This amendment also defines the child pornography more clearly and provides for imprisonment and fines to curb the same. This amendment also enhances the punishment for various sexual offences against children, like minimum punishment which was earlier ten years, is now increased to twenty years, and maximum punishment is death sentence. There is also a provision for compulsory police verification of staff members in schools and shelter homes for children, for educating people about the child rights, and it also clears the procedure to report sexually abusive content.
This amendment would discourage the increasing trend of sexual offences against children. This will also provide a strong legal framework to fight against such inhuman activities, and in ensuring a better future for our children. This will protect the children who are more vulnerable to such offences, and will ensure their safety. The best part about this act is that it is gender neutral, and talks about both male and female, unlike other laws for sexual offences in India which are mostly gender biased. Death penalty is introduced in this bill, this could be an issue of concern as we have seen in many cases that perpetrators of these offences are members of the family of victim itself, and such punishment may discourage the filing of report against the crime. We have also seen the debate over the issue of death sentence, and 262nd Report of The Law Commission of India, 2015 abolishes death penalty except in the terror cases.
With amendments like these and Judiciary of India considering the sexual abuse against children as intolerable, now we could say that there is a rational hope for the safety of the vulnerable children and for a better future. The amendment bill could be proved as a big step in preventing sexual abuse against children, though consequence of providing for death sentence needs to be examined in detail. The gender neutral nature of this amendment takes into account sexual harassment of both male and female, making it a progressive law and this could bring great changes in existing rape laws and other laws against sexual offences in future.
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