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Law on Child Sexual Abuse

What does The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act do?

  • The Act seeks to protect children from offences such as sexual assault, sexual harassment, and pornography.
  • Cases of child sexual abuse are tried under this law. If the crime is proved, the offender is punished depending on the intensity and the act of sexual abuse.
  • It lays down the procedure to be followed by the police, the magistrate (or judge)  in cases of sexual crimes against children.
  • Cases of child sexual abuse under this law have to be tried in Special Courts so that they get done quickly. The courts may order compensation for the physical and mental pain suffered by the child.

What sorts of crimes are punished?

  • Penetrative sexual assault of a child.
  • Aggravated penetrative sexual assault
  • Non-penetrative sexual assault of a child, including
    • Sexual assault;
    • Aggravated sexual assault
    • Sexual harassment;
    • Child pornography (using child for pornographic purposes, using child for pornographic purposes that results in child sexual crimes; Storage of pornographic material).

These acts are punished with more jail time if they are committed by someone in a position of trust or authority.

There is a debate about whether sexual activity with consent is a crime under this law.

What happens when you report a case of child sexual abuse?

If you find out that child sexual abuse is taking place, you must report it to the police, and they will make a written record of your complaint. Most often, you may not know for sure that abuse is happening - even if you are only suspicious, you should report it.If you don’t, you can be punished under this law.

If based on your report the police believe that the child needs immediate medical care, the police have a duty to help the child get medical care even if it has not filed a FIR. As part of the investigation carried out by the police, they will have to ask the child questions. However, they have a duty to do this in an informal manner. Authorities like the child welfare committees will decide if the child should not be living in his or her current house and instead be moved to a home for children.

The government has also come out with an online complaint system.

Media channels and newspapers who publish information about the case have a duty to make sure that the information they share is correct and that they do not publish any information that might reveal who the child is - otherwise they can be punished under this law.

Source: Nyaaya

Related Resources

  1. The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012
  2. The Protection of Children From Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act, 2019


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