India has highest number of child abused
- A study by the Ministry of Women and Child Development had inter-alia observed that every second child faced one or other form of sexual abuse.
- 1 in 5 reported severe form of sexual abuse.
- In more than half of the cases, the abusers were known to the child.
- Street children, child labourers, and children in institutional care reported the highest number of sexual-assault cases.
Huge child population without political representation
India has the largest child population with 42% of the population below the age of 18 years.
Laws dealing with child abuse - before 2012
- Before 2012, the Indian Penal Code under various provisions such as Section 354 (Rape), 375(Outraging Modesty of Women), 377(Unnatural Offense), etc dealt against sexual offenses.
- However, the laws had various shortcomings such as they were not specific to children's needs, had no provisions for repeat offenders, variation in child's age in every law, etc.
- Hence, a need was felt for a 'minor specific' law.
Laws dealing with child abuse post 2012 - POSCO
14 Aug 2012
- Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, has more specific and stringent provisions.
- The act not only defines every person below the age of 18 as child but also defines different forms of sexual abuse.
- It also provides for compulsory reporting of child offense, graded punishment with a maximum term of life imprisonment with fine, special courts for compensation, protecting identity of child, etc.
Issues with the current legislative regime
16 Oct 2015
- According to the National Commission for Protection of Rights of Child, in 2014, less than 10 of the cases registered under POCSO made it to the courts.
- Although POCSO provides for a speedy trial, the special courts are over-burdened with other cases.
- With a conviction rate of less than 2.5%, the courts are also deemed 'child unfriendly' as the child identity is often disclosed.
Think of harsher punishment for child rape accused: SC
11 Jan 2016
- The Apex court has directed the Parliament to think of formulating laws that provide for harsher punishment for rape and abuse of minors.
- A bench headed by Justice Deepak Mishra made this observation while hearing a petition filed by Supreme Court Women Lawyer's Association which sought castration for child rape convicts.
- Attorney-General, Mukul Rohatgi, however, submitted that the law-making power wasn't in court's jurisdiction.