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Cabinet approves amendment in POSCO Act, 2012 to protect children from sexual abuse

The Union Cabinet has approved the proposal for Amendment in the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 to make punishment more stringent for committing sexual crimes against children.

Dec 28, 2018 17:13 IST
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The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 28, 2018 approved the proposal for Amendment in the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 to make punishment more stringent for committing sexual crimes against children.

POSCO Act

The POCSO Act, 2012 was enacted to Protect the Children from Offences of Sexual Assault, Sexual harassment and pornography with due regard for safeguarding the interest and well-being of children.

The Act defines a child as any person below eighteen years of age and regards the best interests and welfare of the child as a matter of paramount importance at every stage, to ensure the healthy physical, emotional, intellectual and social development of the child. The act is gender neutral.

Proposed Amendments

The cabinet has approved the amendment in Section-4, Section-5, Section-6, Section-9, Section-14, Section-15 and Section-42 of the POSCO Act, 2012 to address the aspects of child sexual abuse in an appropriate manner.

The modification has been proposed to address the need for stringent measures required to deter the rising trend of child sex abuse in the country.

The Section-4, Section-5 and Section-6 of the Act are proposed to be amended to provide the option of stringent punishment, including the death penalty, for committing aggravated penetrative sexual assault crime on a child to protect the children from sexual abuse.

The amendment is proposed in section-9 to protect children from sexual offences in times of natural calamities and disasters and in cases where children are administered, in any way, any hormone or any chemical substance, to attains early sexual maturity for the purpose of penetrative sexual assault.

The Section-14 and Section-15 of the POCSO Act, 2012 have been proposed to be amended to address the menace of the child pornography. It is proposed to levy fine for not destroying or deleting or reporting the pornographic material involving a child.

The person can be further penalised with jail term or fine or both for transmitting, propagating and administrating such material in any manner except for the purpose of reporting as may be prescribed and for use as evidence in court.

The penal provisions have been made more stringent for storing or possessing any pornographic material in any form involving a child for a commercial purpose.

Significance

The amendment is expected to discourage the trend of child sexual abuse by acting as a deterrent due to strong penal provisions incorporated in the Act.

It may also protect the interest of vulnerable children in times of distress and ensure their safety and dignity.

The amendment aims to establish clarity regarding the aspects of child abuse and punishment thereof.

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