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POCSO Act, Its Need And Relevance In India

Children are an important marginalized group who, frequently get suffer from various types of exploitation, the most of which is sexual exploitation. As a result, they are marginalized not only in terms of access to basic human needs but also in terms of freely expressing their opinions and having them properly accepted on issues that are important to them.

The Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act (POCSO), 20121 is the most effective and balanced tool for combating these crimes for children who are victims of various forms of sexual abuse. The act serves as a panacea in terms of providing instruments and as well as a scourge in terms of its flaws and regressive nature.

Despite the fact that the act has many flaws in its implementation, it has been summarised with sincere efforts to wipe away the past and scars of children sexually abused in various forms. The sexually abused children who are marginalized must rely on their elders, and in addition to sexual abuse, they face denial of various economic rights such as food, clothing, shelter, and so on.

Background:
The I.P.C. was insufficient to protect children and criminalize non-traditional sexual abuses, which differed from the above-mentioned conventional crimes of child trafficking, pornography, etc. The inadequacy of the Indian Penal Code, as well as the lack of any strict laws for effectively addressing and countering heinous crimes such as sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of children, later prompted the creation of the POCSO ACT.

The purpose of government establishments was to protect children from sexual assault, sexual harassment, and pornography offenses, as well as to facilitate adequate legal machinery by setting up special courts for the trial of such offenses and matters pertaining to child sexual abuse crimes.

This was in accordance with Article 15 of the Indian Constitution, which mandates states to protect the children of the country, and in lieu of the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child, which recommend a set of rules to be followed by member states in securing the best interests of the child.

Need of POSCO Act:

Child sexual abuse is on the rise all over the world, particularly in our own country, India, which is one of the top five countries in the world in terms of the number of sexual offenses involving children. In many ways, Indian criminal law appears inadequate to deal with such a sensitive issue.

Thus, POCSO, 2012 was put in place to make it easier for victims of sexual abuse to seek justice. The Act directs the use of more humane methods of dealing with victims and prohibits judicial victimization of children. As a result of increased awareness, the number of such cases reported has more than doubled.

Salient features:
  • The Act is gender-neutral, and it prioritizes the child's best interests and welfare at all stages to ensure the child's healthy physical, emotional, intellectual, and social development.
     
  • The Act defines a child as any person under the age of 18 and considers the child's best interests and well-being to be of utmost importance at all stages, in order to ensure the child's healthy physical, emotional, intellectual, and human growth.
     
  • It defines various types of sexual abuse, such as penetrative and non-penetrative assault, as well as sexual harassment and pornography, and considers a sexual assault to be aggravated in certain circumstances, such as when the abused child is mentally ill or when the abuse is committed by someone in a position of trust or authority over the child, such as a family member, etc.
     
  • People dealing in the trafficking of children for sexual purposes are also punishable under the Act's abetment provisions. The Act provides for harsh punishment that is graded according to the gravity of the offense, with a maximum term of rigorous imprisonment for life and a fine.
     
  • It defines "child pornography" as any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a child, including photographs, videos, digital or computer-generated images that are distinct from actual children, and images that were created, modified, or modified to appear to portray a child.

The Legislative Process:
The POCSO Act defines sexual assault, sexual harassment, pornography, and the protection of children's interests. It also establishes a child-friendly procedure for recording evidence, investigating and prosecuting offenses, establishing special courts, and expediting case trials. The Act's purpose is to protect children at every stage of the legal process. At first glance, the POCSO Act appears to be an effective piece of legislation for protecting children from sexual offenses. However, there are some theoretical issues with it.

For example, the Act makes no provision for consent given by persons under the age of 18. The Act also leaves open the question of what happens when two minors engage in any kind of sexual activity. Another issue that victims face is proving the age of the child. Because the POCSO Act is passive on what documents are to be considered for determining the age of the child victim, Courts have interpreted Rule 12 of the Juvenile Justice Rules to apply to child victims as well.

This rule only accepts the child's birth certificate, school certificate, or matriculation certificate. Children who can only produce other documents even legal documents like a passport undergoes a bone ossification test. This test can provide a rough estimate of the child's age. There should be a clear provision in the POCSO Act stating which documents should be considered for proving the child's age and whether the benefit of the doubt should be granted or not.

Conclusion:
The POCSO Act's progress report possesses mixed results. While the legislature's mandate is truly radical in that it aims to protect children from sexual abuse and provides for a victim-centered criminal justice system, there are several stumbling blocks in its implementation. Analysis reveals which folds must be thoroughly checked out. We are at a juncture in our country's history when serious open discussion about child abuse needs to be done. We must capitalize on this momentum to effect long-term systemic change; it is the least we can do for our children.

End-Notes
  1. Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses (POCSO) Act, 2012, Act no 32 of 2012.
Also Read:
  1. POCSO Act
  2. Loopholes in POCSO
  3. Cyber Laws And POCSO Act
  4. POCSO Act 2012 And Age Of Consent
  5. Two Judgements Disrobing POCSO Act
  6. Recent Developments in the POCSO Act, 2012
  7. Bail and Suspension of Sentence in POCSO Act
  8. Widening The Scope Of POCSO Act: Calm Before The Storm
  9. Consensual Sex Between Minors A Grey Area Under POCSO Act
  10. The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and Required Amendments
  11. Pressing Breasts Without Disrobing Not Sexual Assault As Per POCSO Act But Offence Under Section 354 IPC

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