Child Sexual Abuse in India : Changes Required in Law
By Sai Vikrant Deshpande
Child sexual abuse or in other words child molestation is a severe form of child abuse in which a child is abused by an adult or by an adolescent for sexual pleasure. There are many ways in which the modesty of a child is exploited. Some of the most heinous one are pressuring a child sexual stimulation, physical sexual contact or penetration, in decently exposing genitals of a child and child pornography. In India too the problem of child sexual abuse is not new and children are made victims of this form of child abuse.The condition of children both male and female is worst in city slums, footpath dwellings and Indian jails. They are sexually exploited by the slum, ruffians —even neighbors in the slums and on footpaths in metropolitan cities. Since there are not many juvenile jails in India most of the child convicts are kept in regular jails. Sexual abuse is a regular feature. Hard core convicts and jail staff satisfy their sexual lust on these children.In recent years there has been a tremendous increase in the rate of child sexual abuse in India and its impact are quite visible .Ignorance by family members, family honor, lack of awareness, pressure by elderly family members, and loopholes in laws itself are some of the major cause of this rise. Since the laws are not properly implemented and conducted , these innocent bodies are falling an easy prey .It’s the time when government should look upon the issue seriously and take proper action in order to curb this problem as soon as possible .
ROLE OF GOVERNMENT, LAWS AND LOOPHOLES
The issue of child sexual abuse is not new in india.but it in the recent times it has reached to an alarming rate. Indian media is reporting this tremendous increase as an ‘epidemic’. The demand for stronger laws is increasing and the role of government has often been questioned. Though all possibilities are made my government to minimize the rate of child sexual abuse but the Indian government has failed to curb the rampant sexual abuse of children, especially in schools, state-run child care facilities, and in the matter of insect. Government responses are falling short in protecting children and in treating victims.Earlier there was only one act, goad children’s act, 2003 which dealt with the laws regarding child sexual abuse. While the government in 2012 passed a comprehensive law to protect children from sexual offences, its efforts to implement the law remained poor or nonexistent.
According to Goa children’s act, 2003, Child sexual abuse might be prosecuted as:
• I.P.C. (1860) 354- Outraging the modesty of a woman
• I.P.C. (1860) 377- Unnatural offences
• I.P.C. (1860) 511- Attempt
LOOPHOLES IN THE LAW
• They aren’t specific to children’s needs.
• Laws have no provisions for repeat offenders
• Didn’t mention anything about teen who contently have intercourse with each other
• No provisions for bail-able and non bail-able offences and lots more.
• The age of Child varies in every law.
• IPC 375 doesn’t protect male victims or anyone from sexual acts of penetration other than “traditional”peon-vaginal intercourse.
• IPC 354 lacks a statutory definition of “modesty”. It carries a weak penalty and is a compoundable offence. Moreover, what about the outrage of the modesty of a male child?
• In IPC 377, the term “unnatural offences” is not defined. It only applies to victims
penetrated by their attacker’s sex act, and is not designed to criminalize sexual abuse of
Protection of children against sexual offence act ,2012
The new Act provides for a variety of offenses under which an accused can be punished. It recognizes forms of penetration other than peon-vaginal penetration and criminalizes acts of immodesty against children too. With respect to pornography, the Act criminalizes even watching or collection of pornographic content involving children. The Act makes
abetment of child sexual abuse an offense. It also provides for various procedural reforms, making the tiring process of trial in India considerably easier for children. The Act has been criticized as its provisions seem to criminalize consensual sexual intercourse between two people below the age of 18.
Some of the major upside and appreciation of the act was :
Treating sexual assault as “aggravated offence” when a person in authority or position of trust commits the offence. It also considers the physical/mental disability and the long-term after-effects of the injury inflicted.·
Special provision preventing pornographic abuse or even possession of such·
material. It also places the media, studio and photographic facilities under
obligation to report such matters.
Designated special courts that will decide cases in a time-bound manner. It also·
spells out the various procedures of investigation, trial and sensitive dispensation
Guidelines for media to sensitively and discreetly report cases without inflicting·
pain of identification of the victim.
Though these changes were welcomed by some section, again flaws were quite visible and many social worker and legal bodies criticized the act.
Many activist like Amerada Sahasrabuddhe, Bharati Kotwal and Ingrid Mendonca point out its flaws:
· For the penetration sex the maximum offence was only 10 years
· No mandatory counseling for victims and families.
· Nothing much written about child pornography
· Consensual non-penetrative sex for twelve year olds.
· Giving green signal to consensual intercourse at 16 years of age and no provision for Punishment.
· No specification of accountability or compensation from those accountable, including the judiciary.
Though the new act has brought some new reforms and stricter laws have been
implemented but still some changes are needed to both by law making bodies and by individuals too to make these more powerful and to bring this issue of child sexual abuse to minimal .some of the changes which should be welcomed are.
· Stricter provisions and punishment for crimes relating to child molestation and sexual abuse. Especially in the cases of penetrative sex punishment should be severe to deterrent the culprits and sending a message to the society. These cases should be brought under rare case and punishment be awarded according to that.
· Complete ban and filter on sexually explicit sites .awareness programmers should be organized and counseling should be done to aware people about the consequences of pornography and its effect. Punishment should be awarded to any vendor selling or acquiring such materials .complete cyber monitoring is needed.
· Families should be acknowledged and aware about incest sex. They should be inspired and counseled to report these problems in police.
· School authority and other educational institutions should authorize a committee to see that no such happenings take place in school premises and outside and if so happen it must be reported and informed to highest authority.
· More fast track courts should be made in order to get proper and fast justice. Long court procedure should not be the reason of acquittal of accused, this should be made clear.
· Child welfare homes should also be checked and monitored regularly.
No child should face the mental trauma during hearing and excessive media coverage should also be banned.
· More counselor and psychiatrist should be appointed to provide better counseling for victims and families.
· Proper compensation should be provided to the victim.