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HindustanTimes Thu,24 Apr 2014

New child protection law has more teeth

Neelam Pandey and Faizan Haidar, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, September 16, 2013
First Published: 02:01 IST(16/9/2013) | Last Updated: 03:08 IST(16/9/2013)

The police have a strong instrument in the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act to deal with those who subject children to sexual abuse.

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Under this law, that came into force in November 2012, stalking even on a on social networking site is treated as sexual harassment and attracts imprisonment of up to three years.

Child rights experts say that the law can go a long way in dealing with cases of sexual assault against children.

“Delhi government too, has come up with detailed guidelines for the prevention of child abuse,” said Rishikant, executive director of NGO Shakti Vahini.

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Under the Act, different forms of sexual abuse have been defined, including penetrative and non-penetrative assault, as well as sexual harassment and pornography.

Under POCSO, sexual acts committed by ‘people in authority’ such as a family member, police officer, teacher or a doctor attracts a harsher penalty.

“Under the Indian Penal Code (IPC), all this was covered under section 376 but the POCSO Act has categorised these crimes under different heads,” said Raj Mangal Prasad, former chairperson of the Delhi government’s child and welfare committee.

Rapes that take place inside a jail, remand home, protection home or observation home, fall under the same head. Experts said sensitisation of police is also equally important.

“The members of child welfare committees and policemen dealing with juvenile victims of abuse  must be sensitised and trained in dealing with children,” Prasad added.

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