Taking a firm step towards protection of children, a law dealing comprehensively with all sexual offences against children is on the anvil with Women and Child Development minister Krishna Tirath having tabled the Bill in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.
The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Bill, 2011, which covers all new aspects of sex offences against children not covered by any other existing law, will now be placed before the parliamentary Standing Committee.
“Other than penetrative penile sex, extant Indian laws do not provide for penetrative sex offenses like inserting a finger or other such acts. All such acts are grouped under ‘outraging the modesty’. Penetrative sex with a male child is also included under Section 377. In that context, the comprehensive effort is a very welcome one,” said Enakshi Ganguly from HAQ: Centre for Child Rights.
The proposed landmark legislation takes under its ambit a slew of sex acts including penetrative sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography.
Besides provisions to treat sexual assault as “aggravated offence” when it is committed by a person in position of trust or authority over a child including a member of the security forces, police officer, public servant, management or staff of a children’s home, hospital or educational institution, the bill also provides for establishment of special courts for speedy trial of such offences.
“A child sex victim’s trauma is very difficult and deeper from that of an adult. More has to be done to given them justice and provide psychological comfort. This can only be done by improving grassroots awareness level. Among other things there has to be a separate department in police for child sex victims,” Dr Rajat Mitra, clinical psychologist, told Hindustan Times.
Stringent punishment in form of upto 10 years of jail extendable to life imprisonment has also been proposed while aggravated penetrative sexual assault will invite rigorous imprisonment for not less than 10 years.
A notable feature is the move to legalise consensual sex with individuals aged between 16-18 years where it will be considered whether the consent had been obtained by use of violence, force, intoxicants, drugs and deceit.
It will also be compulsory for the media to report sex offenses against children to the police and failure to do so will attract punishment. Another significant provision seeks to prevent abuse of children for pornographic purpose and even possession of pornographic material involving children will invite punishment.