Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2011
- The Act, which came into force in 2012, is the first comprehensive law in the country dealing specifically with sexual abuse of children.
- Under the Act, any person below the age of 18 years is defined as a “child”.
- The Act increased the scope of reporting offences against children, which were not earlier covered under the Indian Penal Code. This included aggravated penetrative sexual assault to include punishment for abuse by a person in position of trust or authority including public servants, police, armed forces, management or staff of an educational or religious institution.
- It also defined the procedure for reporting of cases, including a provision for punishment for failure to report a case or false complaint.
- It provided procedures for recording of the statement of a child by the police and court, laying down that it should be done in a child-friendly manner, and by the setting up of special courts.
- Each district shall designate a Sessions Court to be a Special Court. The Court shall, as far as possible, complete the trial within one year. The trial shall be held in camera and in the presence of the child’s parents or any person trusted by the child.
- The Act also includes penalties for use of children for the purpose of pornography and abetment of an offence.
- The Act was amended in 2019 to enhance punishment under various sections of the Act including punishment for aggravated penetrative sexual assault to be increased to include death penalty.
- The important part of this act is that it is gender-neutral and creates no discrimination against children belonging to any gender be it cis male, cis female, trans male, trans female, or any other gender.
Why in News?
- The Union Government has set up 413 exclusive POCSO Courts for expeditious trial and disposal of cases related to rape and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
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