What protection do children have from sexual abuse?

Before 2012, there was no specific law to provide protect to children from sexual offenses as this was the year when the parliament of the country passed The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012. The new law provides protection to children from a variety of offenses and has provision for heavy punishment for the perpetrator.

In its press release the government of India said that the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 or POCSO Act in short has been drafted to strengthen the legal provisions for the protection of children from sexual abuse and exploitation. Though various sections of Indian penal code like 375- Rape, 354- Outraging the modesty of a woman, 377- Unnatural offences, and 511- Attempt, etc. Are there, the new law will provide extra relief.

The Parliament of India said that for the first time, a special law has been passed to address the issue of sexual offences against children as the IPC does not provide for all types of sexual offences against children. A major problem has been that there was no distinction between adult and child victims.

Understanding the aggravated problem, the parliament passed the POCSO Act which defines a child as any person below the age of 18 years and provides protection to all children under the age of 18 years from the offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography.

Punishment for the Violation of the POCSO Act

The law clearly defines the offenses and provides for stringent punishments, which have been graded as per the gravity of the offence e.g. simple to rigorous imprisonment of varying periods, fine. Anyone who is in a position of trust or authority of child such as a member of security forces, police officer, public servant, etcetera commits crime will be treated as “aggravated.”

  • Section 9 and 10 provide not less than five years which may extend to seven years, and fine for punishment for ‘Aggravated Sexual Assault’.
  • The punishment goes higher for ‘Penetrative Sexual Assault’ punishable under Section 3 and 4. Here the accused gets not less than seven years which may extend to imprisonment for life, and fine.
  • Accused of ‘Aggravated Penetrative Sexual Assault’ gets not less than ten years which may extend to imprisonment for life, and fine under Section 5 and 6.
  • Sections 7 and 8 have provision of not less than three years which may extend to five years, and fine for Sexual Assault.
  • The accused will get three years and fine under Section 11 and 12 for Sexual Harassment of the Child.