1,49,404 cases of crime against children were registered in 2021 of which 53,874 — 36.05 percent — were under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO); that is why the legislation of India came with an innovative and needful act known as Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 hereinafter referred as “POCSO Act, 2012”.
The main aim of the act is to protect children below the age of 18 years from sexual abuse.
The minimum punishment for the offenders is 20 years of imprisonment which can extend to the death penalty in cases of heights of assault.
Moreover, the Rights of the Child was observed in 1989 in the countries like the United Nations.
Why is there a need for POCSO Act, 2012?
Before the POCSO Act, of 2012, crimes against children were not protected under one legislation. Sections 354,375 & 377 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, discussed sexual abuse against children.
These provisions were not enough to protect children, their rights, and their modesty. As society developed laws and regulations were also necessary to be amended.
Therefore, the need for new laws was true.
As the offenses against child abuse were growing, there was a need for
specific legislation which talks about offenses and appropriate punishments for the offenders.
Therefore, with the efforts and continuous help of NGOs, various activists, and the Ministry of Women and Child Development,
Prevention of Children from sexual offenses acts 201 was enforced on 14th November 2012.
The Act talks about the punishment for the crimes done against children
in society. Section 2(1)(d) of the POCSO Act, 2012 states the definition of a child as “a child means any person below the age of eighteen years.”
This makes clear that offenses against children below 18 years come under the ambit of POCSO ACT 2012.
General Principles of POCSO Act, 2012
Certain principles are to be followed while trial under the POCSO Act: –
· Right to be respected- provisions of the actors talk about how a child victim should be treated with dignity and respect. It is very crucial to treat the child with the utmost compassion.
· Right to life- As per Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, the Right to life is a fundamental right. It is important to create a healthy and safe environment for children and to protect our younger girls of society from evils.
· Right against discrimination- A child should not be discriminated against by any means against religion, caste, gender, etc. Moreover, this is also a fundamental right under the Indian Constitution. Not only this but also the investigation and trial should be just, fair, and within the time limit.
The POCSO Act 2012 certainly aims at covering and punishing the offenders of all aspects of sexual abuse against children. In the year 2019 many Amendments have been made to the Act which leads to more stringent punishments for the offenders.
It becomes important for the government and educated people to deliver more knowledge about the rights of children and to talk about acts like POCSO so that people can claim their rights easily and efficiently.
by Jayant varandani