Law to protect children from sex abuse comes into effect

Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 aimed at safeguarding both male and female children from sexual abuse came into force on Wednesday, November 14, celebrated as Children’s Day.

The Act has many stringent provisions such as maximum punishment of imprisonment for life for sexual offenders and for using children in pornography or exposing them to it.

The law defines a child as any person below the age of 18 years. The Act provides for stringent punishment graded in accordance with the gravity of the offence, with a maximum term of rigorous imprisonment for life for certain offences, and fine. The penalty for penetrative sexual assault is imprisonment between seven years and life and fine.

The Act puts some offences in the category of “aggravated penetrative sexual assault”. The category covers offences by a police officer, a member of the armed forces or a public servant. Gang penetrative sexual assault, assault using deadly weapons, fire or corrosive substance and assault by staff of private hospital and staff of an educational institution are also covered under this category.

A penetrative sexual assault shall be considered aggravated if it injures the sexual organs of the child or takes place during communal violence or the child becomes pregnant or gets any other threatening disease or is below 12 years of age. The Act also covers offences by a relative.

The Act bans child pornography in any form for the purpose of sexual gratification through representation of sexual organs of a child. The penalty is rigorous imprisonment for up to five years and fine. It can go up to seven years. The Act includes penalties for storage of pornographic material and abetment of an offence.

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