Child abuse: India

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This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.

Contents

Protection of Children against Sexual Offences Act (POCSO)

The Times of India, Jul 09 2015

Child abuse, state-wise; Graphic courtesy: The Times of India, Jul 09 2015

Himanshi Dhawan

8 cases of child abuse every day 6,816

Eight cases of sex crimes against children have been registered every day in the last two years. About 6,816 police cases were registered from November, 2012 -when the Protection of Children against Sexual Offences Act (POCSO)--came into force up to March, 2015. The highest number of FIRs has been registered in Rajasthan followed by Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Kerala according to data available with the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR).The number of convictions is only 166 that is 2.4% of the total cases registered while in 389 cases accused were acquitted.

There is a rising trend of crime against children. This is also borne out by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data that has recorded 33,052 Cases, 38,172 cases and 58,224 cases during 2011, 2012 and 2013 respectively . According to a study conducted by the WCD ministry in 2007, over half of the children surveyed reported having faced some form of sexual abuse, with their suffering exacerbated by the lack of specific legislation to provide remedies for these crimes.

While rape is considered a serious offence under the Indian Penal Code, the law was deficient in recognizing and punishing other sexual offences, such as sexual harassment, stalking, and child pornography , for which prosecutors had to rely on imprecise provisions such as “outraging the modesty of a woman“. Recognizing the problem, the government introduced POCSO to address rampant child sexual abuse through less ambiguous and more stringent legal provisions, championed the introduction of a specific law to address this offence.

2013-14: Pendency: 85%, disposal: 15%; conviction: 2%

The Times of India, Sep 15 2015

Sexual abuse of children, region-wise in Delhi: April 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014; Graphic courtesy: The Times of India, Sep 15 2015

Ambika Pandit

2% POCSO cases end in conviction

In a shocking finding, the average pendency in Delhi's children's courts during the financial year 2013-14 of cases registered under Protection Of Children from Sexual Offences Act has been revealed to be as high as 85%, with West district recording the maximum of 93%. The data, thrown up in an analysis by Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights, shows gross violation of Section 35(2) of POCSO Act, which mandates completion of trials as fast as possible. The report, which describes the statistics as a “sorry picture“, also calculates the average percentage of convictions to be about 2%. Just 15% cases are disposed of.

“This commission feels that such a high percentage of pendency and low percentage of conviction can be attributed to the fact that children's courts are not fully dedicated to the cases. They handle matters related to children in addition to usual cases allotted to them. As a result, the legal requirement that the case be disposed of within a year is not being adhered to,“ says the report.

The total number of cases registered by Delhi Police under the Act between December 2012 and March 2014 is 1,492.The maximum number of cases under POCSO Act was registered in the police district of Outer Delhi (226) followed by West (200) and Southeast (176).The highest percentage of sexual abuse of children by known persons was reported from Outer district again (94 cases) followed by Southeast (93 cases) and SouthCentral districts (91 cases). The average percentage of such crimes is 89%.

“This percentage is contrary to the findings of the Government of India study of 2007 which stated that 50% of abus ers are persons known to the child or in a position of trust and responsibility . That report also stated that most children did not report the matter to anyone. Our analysis shows that more and more cases are being reported to the Delhi Police,“ said DCPCR chairperson Arun Mathur.

The report says that investigation under POCSO Act has gained momentum only since mid-2013. “Since the POCSO Act came into force in November 2012 and cases would have begun to get registered a few months thereafter, it can be safely presumed that investigation under the law gained momentum only from the middle of 2013 onwards. With increasing awareness of the Act, there has been an increase in the reporting of cases under the Act,“ says the report.

SC: mentally retarded adult not a child

July 22, 2017: The Hindu

“The purpose of POCSO Act is to treat the minors as a class by itself and treat them separately so that no offence is committed against them as regards sexual assault, sexual harassment and sexual abuse. Parliament has deliberately fixed the age of the child and it is in the prism of biological age. If any determination is required, it only pertains to the biological age, and nothing else,” Justice Misra dismissed the idea of “mental age” in POCSO.

Justice Misra observed that since there are different degrees of mental retardation, the court would have to go into the question of consent to the sexual act. This is not provided for in POCSO.

Urbanisation and Children

2012-13: Children as victims

Children as victims of urbanisation; Graphic courtesy: The Times of India, Jul 18 2015

The Times of India, Jul 18 2015

Sushmi Dey

Crime, disease stalk urban children

Incidents against kids rose by 52.5% between 2012 and 2013, says study

Increasing urbanization has led to a rise in disease burden among children as well as crime against them. While there was a 24% increase in crime against children between 2010 and 2011, it has risen by 52.5% from 2012 to 2013, a new report by Save the Children shows. Similarly , urbanization has led to many other problems among children, including health issues like undernutrition, stunting and even high infant mortality rate.

“A higher-than-average crime rate clearly means that children in cities are not only victims to such violence but are in danger of becoming a part of organized crime rackets, especially when faced with circumstances such as disruption in schooling, dysfunctional family , lack of parental care and exposure to substance abuse,“ the report said.

According to the report, major crimes against children include trafficking, kidnapping, rape and infanticide, while the girl child is affected the most due to the proliferation of sex work in cities.

Citing NCRB data from 2012, the report places Bengaluru at the top of the list of 88 Indian cities, with 551 cases of crime against children. Mumbai stands second, and Delhi comes third with 363 cases.

India is going through a crucial phase of transition, from a predominantly rural country to one where a majority of people now aspire to live in cities. However, the report points out that while the number of people residing in urban India is on the rise, equally alarming is the rise in the number of urban poor.

According to the report, inadequate basic amenities, poor health outcomes, unstable incomes, and poor consumption expenditure are some of the key reasons responsible for the dire state of children in urban India.

Though immunization coverage has improved in urban India, undernutrition continues to be a serious problem with 32.7% of urban children under the age of five years reported to be underweight and 39.6% stunted.Obesity is also on the rise.

Highlighting the longterm consequences of malnutrition, the report says the impact of undernutrition on the girl child has serious inter-generational effects as a stunted young girl is likely to grow to be a stunted adolescent girl and subsequently a stunted woman with increased chances of giving birth to an undernourished child.

Judicial verdicts

Protect identity of minors subjected to abuse: HC

The Times of India, December 13, 2016

Abhinav Garg

Identity of minors subjected to sexual offences should not be disclosed anywhere in the judicial record, the Delhi high court has ordered.

The high court gave the direction while pulling up a special judge in a POCSO Court who had revealed the identity of a girl raped by her stepfather in court documents. The minor's rape had resulted in the 14-year-old giving birth to a child. “It is the statutory responsibility of the special court to ensure that the identity of the minor is not disclosed at any time during the course of investigation or trial. The provision carves out an exception for the court to permit such disclosure but the consideration therefore being against “the interest of the child“. As clarified in the explanation, the identity of the child does not mean only the name but includes the identity of family, school, relatives, neighbourhood or any other information by which hisher identity may stand exposed,“ a bench of justices Gita Mittal and R K Gauba noted.

The bench dismissed an appeal filed by the stepfather against his conviction and gave him a life term, making it clear he will remain in prison for the rest of his life. “Though directions on the subject have been given in the past, we rei terate and direct that all the trial courts shall ensure that the identity of the survivor in cases involving sexual offences shall not be disclosed anywhere in the judicial record and that names shall be referred by pseudonyms...and they be so identified during the course of trial and in the judgment,“ the bench said, directing the subordinate judiciary and the Delhi government to take note.

The court also expressed concern at the “complete vacuum“ in the Delhi government compensation guidelines for survivors of sexual offences. It pointed out that according to the 2011 scheme that is in force, there is no scope to award compensation to a child born of sexual offence.

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