Rajya Sabha passes POCSO amendment bill

Rajya Sabha passes POCSO amendment bill

File Photo for representation

India has nearly 6.2 lakh offenders of sexual crime, Union Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani informed the Rajya Sabha on Monday as the Elders approved a new bill to enhance the level of protection children received against sexual crimes.

“What is currently reported on sexual crimes against children is only the tip of the iceberg. Many cases are slipped under the carpet,” the minister said as the Rajya Sabha cleared the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill, 2019.

The new legislation seeks to amend the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, which provides a legal framework to save kids from sexual assault, sexual harassment, and pornography.

The need to modify the 2012 act came in the backdrop of several incidences of child sexual abuse in the recent past demonstrating the inhumane mindset of the abusers.

“Children are becoming easy prey because of their tender age, physical vulnerabilities and inexperience of life and society. The unequal balance of power leading to the gruesome act may also detriment the mind of the child to believe that might is right and reported studies establish that children who have been victims of sexual violence in their childhood become more abusive later in their life,” says the statement of object and reason in the bill.

The 2016 report of the National Crime Records Bureau indicates 178.6% increase in the number of such cases in 2014 over 2013 and no decline in the number of cases thereafter. In its next report, NCRB will also come out with gender break up of the victims too.

While most of the Rajya Sabha members spoke in support of the legislation, Irani responded to a passionate plea from Samajwadi Party member Jaya Bachhan, who cited a study to claim that it could take decades for the victims to get justice in the states.

“As many as 1,66,882 cases of rape and child sexual abuses are pending in the courts. We are setting up 1,023 fast track courts to try such cases. Eighteen states have consented to set up such courts for which Rs 767 crores would be spent, out of which Rs 474 crore would be given by the Centre. The states have also been requested to appoint a senior police officer as nodal person,” the minister said.

Also more than six lakh government teachers would be sensitised about Pocso and Juvenile Justice Act and the government was toying with the idea of holding special classes in schools to teach children how to distinguish between good touches and bad touches, she said.