The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 was enacted to provide a robust legal framework for the protection of children from offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography, while safeguarding the interest of the child at every stage of the judicial process. The framing of the Act seeks to put children first by making it easy to use by including mechanisms for child-friendly reporting, recording of evidence, investigation and speedy trial of offences through designated Special Courts. The Act provides for a variety of offences under which an accused can be punished. It recognises forms of penetration other than penile-vaginal penetration and criminalises acts of immodesty against children too. The Amendment Act introduced in 2019 seeks to enhance punishment for Sexual Offences against Children, with a provision for Death Penalty.
Penetrative Sexual Assault
Aggravated Penetrative Sexual Assault
Aggravated Sexual Assault
Use of Child for Pornographic Material
Storage of Child Pornography
The term ‘child’ has been defined to mean “any person below the age of eighteen years”. The Act offers several procedural and substantive reliefs to a child victim. They are as follows:
1. Police / SJPU
3. District Child Protection Unit
5. Special Court / Judge
6. Special Public Prosecutor
7. Support Person
8. State Government
9. Central Government
A person commits an offence of sexual harassment against a child under Section 11 if she/her does any of the following with a sexual intent.
According to Section 7 of The Act, sexual assault is an offence which does not involve penetration. It is commonly referred as a non-penetrative touch based offence. The key ingredients of this offence are
Therefore, in order to constitute sexual assault, The Act must be done with sexual intent. For instance, if a child is taken to a doctor with a complaint of burning sensation in her vagina and the doctor examined the vagina, the doctor has not committed an offence. But, if the doctor asks a child complaining only of an ear ache to undress and then touch the child’s private parts, he/she can be charged with sexual assault.
PENETRATIVE SEXUAL ASSAULT
According the section 3 of The Act, a penetrative sexual assault involves some form of penetration with a body part (penis, finger etc.) or an object into the body (vagina, urethra, anus or mouth) of a child. Making a child penetrate the accused, another adult or another child is also an offence. For instance, a person who makes a child insert her/ his finger into the vagina of another child or woman is liable for having committed penetrative sexual assault. Similarly, insertion of the tongue into the child’s vagina, mouth, urethra or anus, or making the child do the same with the accused, another adult, or child is also an offence.
AGGRAVATED SEXUAL ASSAULT
Aggravated Sexual Assault is distinguished from Sexual Assault and Penetrative Sexual Assault based on factors such as ‘how’, ‘when’, ‘by whom’ and ‘what act’. Aggravating factors are the
Yes, a child can be charged with a sexual offence under The Act. However, cases against a child will lie before the Juvenile Justice Board as per procedures laid down under the Juvenile Justice ( Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 ( JJ Act). The child cannot be tried by the Special Court and cannot be punished under The Act. If the child is found to have committed an offence under The Act, the Juvenile Justice Board could pass any of the following orders as per provisions listed under the JJ Act:
All persons are under an obligation to report offences under The Act. According to Section 19 (1), anyone who knows that an offence is committed or believes that it is likely to be committed or where there is an apprehension that a sexual offence is likely to be committed against a child will have to inform the SJPU or the local police. Failure to report the commission of an offence is punishable under section 21 (1) with imprisonment for a maximum term of six months and/or fine. Children too are under an obligation to report offences under This Act. However they cannot be punished for failure to report an offence.
Yes. Media, hotels, clubs, studios, photographic facilities, and hospitals have a special duty to report cases. If they find materials or objects that are sexually exploitative of children, they must report it to the police or the SPJU. Eg. if the housekeeping personnel come across pornographic pictures of children in a hotel room, they must notify the SJPU or the Local Police about it. The failure to report will attract imprisonment for a maximum term of six months and/or fine.
See Reporting CSA
This COVID-19 period has seen a surge in demand for violent child pornography by 200% as per ICPF, sexual violence has spiked by 7.3% since 2018 as per the NCRB report, we have seen an emergence of an unprecedented rise in domestic violence and child sexual abuse.
Excerpts from the book, Frequently Asked Questions on the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012– Authors: Swagata Raha, Anuroopa Giliyal and Geeta Sajjanshetty; Published by Centre for Child and the Law- (National Law School of India University- A publication jointly supported by Child Rights and You (CRY) and Sir Dorabji Trust (SDTT)
The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports has given a directive to our NGO – Sakshi to design, customize and deliver Workshops on Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012 (POCSOA 2012) for the NSS Students of 40,000 Colleges across India. Workshops started in 2018.