Child Sexual Abuse is a social problem with considerable magnitude .WHO estimates that 20% of girls and 5-10% of boys are victims of child sexual abuse .Despite being highly prevalent Child Sexual abuse is often hidden ,unseen, under reported or not understood .India has the largest population of children in the world .Since India is a signatory to the UN Convention on Rights of Children , and Article 21 of the constitution i.e. Right to Life and Personal Liberty provides for Protection of Children below 18 years of age . Therefore the Protection of Children from Sexual Offence Act 2012 was enacted to provide a robust legal framework for the protection of children from offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment, pornography while safeguarding the interest of children at every stage of judicial process.
The Act was amended in 2019, to make provisions for enhancement of punishments for various offences so as to deter the perpetrators and ensure safety, security and dignified childhood for a child.
Key highlights of the Act :
-The Act provides for a child friendly approach towards reporting ,recording evidence ,investigation and speedy trials through Special Courts.
– The Act provides for a variety of offences under which an accused can be punished. Offences under the Act include : a)Penetrative Sexual Assault , b)Sexual Assault , c) Sexual Harassment , d)Child Pornography , e)Aggravated Penetrative Sexual Assault
– The Act is gender neutral for both Children as well as the accused.
– According to the Act every crime of Child Sexual abuse should be reported , incase a a person who has information of the the offence fails to report they may face imprisonment upto 6 months.
– As per the Act Sexual Act with children below the age of 18 is an offence ,even if it is consensual .
As a society we need to provide a safe environment free from any kind of sexual abuse to our children. Therefore to begin with there is a need to create awareness amongst various individuals and institutions who deal with children i.e Parents , teachers , School , Police , Medical professional ,NGOS dealing with children ,reporters ,Lawyers ,Media, Social Media platforms ,Counselors , so that they can help protect children from sexual offences .
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