A government study says that 53 per cent of children below 18 years of age have undergone some or the other form of sexual victimisation. What is even more worrisome is that more than half the abusers are known to the children. The gravity of the situation today set the wheels rolling for a crucial Bill that will give the country, for the first time, a comprehensive law to deal with sexual offences against children by providing for stringent punishment of up to 10 years in jail, which may even extend to life imprisonment.Tabled in the Rajya Sabha by Women and Child Krishna Tirath, the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Bill, 2011, will deal exclusively with sexual offences against children. It will protect children from sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography and provide for establishment of special courts for trial of such offences and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
“Sexual offences against children are not adequately addressed by extant laws. A large number of such offences are neither specifically provided for nor are they adequately penalised,” the statement of objects of the Bill said. The Bill will now be sent to the Standing Committee. The legal tool also provides for treating sexual assault as “aggravated offence” where 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.
It will be treated as an aggravated offence where the child victim is below the age of 12 or suffers from a mental or physical disability or the sexual offence causes grievous hurt or injury to the child with a long-term adverse effect on the child’s mind and body. The punishment for such an offence would be imprisonment of up to seven years with fine. The punishment for penetrative sexual assault has been proposed to be at least five years in jail and a minimum fine of Rs 50,000. Sexual assault also includes fondling the child in an inappropriate way, which will invite a penalty of minimum three years in jail.
Section 7 of the Bill provides for “no punishment” if the consent for sexual act has been obtained with a person aged between 16 and 18 years.
- Cabinet clears child protection bill (hindu.com)
- Smt. Krishna Tirath chairs Conference of State Ministers in charge of Women & Child Development (equalityindia.wordpress.com)
- Conference of State Ministers, Ministry of Women and Child (equalityindia.wordpress.com)