The POCSO Act
- Ten years have passed since the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012, enacted in consequence to India’s ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1992.
Why is it required?
- The purpose of this special law is to address crimes involving the exploitation and abuse of children sexually that were either not clearly defined or were not being sufficiently punished.
- The gender-neutral nature of the POCSO Act is an important aspect.
What are the hurdles?
- Investigation into penetrative sexual assault cases often entails gathering the prosecutrix’s statement, having the child’s age determined, and having a medical and forensic science laboratory (FSL) examination performed.
- The POCSO Act calls for a woman sub inspector to record the afflicted child’s statement in their home or another location of their choice.
- However, with only 10% of police officers being women and many police stations barely staffing with women, it is nearly impossible to adhere to this rule.
- The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) introduced a plan in 2015 to establish an Investigation Unit on Crime Against Women (IUCAW) that would consist of 15 police officers in each district, at least one-third of whom would be female, and be led by a second superintendent of police.
- However, the response from the States to the plan has been tepid.
- According to the POCSO Act, the accused is assumed to have committed the crime by the court.
- The Indian Evidence Act (Section 114(b)), in contrast, expressly stipulates that the prosecution must prove recent intercourse and that the prosecutrix must testify in court that she did not consent.
- The POCSO Act has no such provisions. However, it has been noted that even once the victim’s young age has been established, the court never raises this presumption during the course of the trial, no matter how little relevance it may have.
- It is improbable that such circumstances will lead to the anticipated increase in the conviction rate.
- In order to determine how much the POCSO Act has aided victims of sexual exploitation and what else needs to be done to achieve justice, it is time to assess how it is being put into practise.
Source The Hindu
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