AUTHORED BY: MS. NATASHA JAIN, LL.B, STUDENT AT NEW LAW COLLEGE, BHARATI VIDYAPEETH DEEMED UNIVERSITY & RESEARCH WRITER AT LAW AUDIENCE: EDITED BY: MS. SONAL GUPTA, B.A.LL.B, 2ND YEAR STUDENT AT SYMBIOSIS LAW SCHOOL, HYDERABAD & ASSISTANT EDITOR AT LAW AUDIENCE.
Child abuse means the physical or mental exploitation of a child or a minor. It is distinguished into four major classes i.e. physical abuse, emotional abuse, neglect and poorest of all; the sex offence. Child Sexual Abuse could be a somewhat physical or mental damage of a child with sexual intent, sometimes by a person who knows the child very well or who is in the trust of a child. Millions of youngsters are victims of violence and mistreatment. Traditionally, child sexual abuse is an unknown problem in India and has been neglected by the public and the Criminal Judiciary System. It is an unquestionable fact that child sexual abuse in India is increasing at the shocking speed. Children are seen as the future of the country, they carry hopes and dreams with them to succeed. Though, the reality is that 53% of Indian children have been the victim of sexual abuse. The insufficiency of penalty is one such example of statutory mistake and this is the result that children’s have become sufferers of cruel cases of sexual abuse.
- WHAT IS CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE?
Child abuse consists of child sexual abuse which is one of its forms in which a sexual activity is done with a minor. The Child does not possess the capacity to give consent to any form of sexual activity. A victim of child abuse suffers an everlasting effect on his/her life because of the act of the wrongdoer, it is not necessary that a child sexual abuse may include a physical contact. Different forms of child sexual abuse are as follows:-
- Masturbation and even forcing a minor to masturbate.
- Obscene phone calls and indecent text messages.
- Pornographic images of children.
- Various kinds of sex with minor including vaginal, oral or anal.
- Sex trafficking.
- Any other sexual behaviour that can harm a child’s mental, emotional or physical well-being.
- WHAT DO CRIMINALS OF CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE LOOK LIKE:
In most of the cases, the wrongdoer is well known to the family or the child. He may be the teacher, relative, older sibling, neighbour, friend or any person who is in trust of the child. As many as 93% of sufferers under the age of 18 know the abuser. The sexual orientation of the abusive person has nothing to do with child abuse; it is his viciousness that takes the advantage of child’s helplessness. The wrongdoer can manipulate the victim to stay quiet in a discreet manner using different strategies. They influence the child by saying that it is a normal activity and that they enjoyed it or if the child rejects they bully the child. Child sexual abuse is not always about physical harm; it even includes loss of trust and power.
- HOW CAN ONE PROTECT A CHILD FROM SEXUAL ABUSE
The best way of protecting the child is to have a word with them about the incident. Ask the child about the incident at a place where there is no one. Try to talk to the child in a polite manner; this will lead you to get more information about the incident. Avoid blaming the child and start winning the confidence of the child. Make child comfortable and assure them that they are not in trouble and be patient with the child. Teach your child that nobody has the right to touch them if they don’t want to be touched.
- WHAT ARE THE WARNING SIGNS
Child sexual abuse is not easy to spot. There are some warning signs which are mentioned below:
- Bleeding, bruises, or swelling in the genital area.
- Difficulty in walking or sitting.
- Pain and burning in the genital area.
- Develops phobia.
- Nightmares or bed-wetting.
- Bad grades in school.
- Expresses suicidal thoughts.
- Aggressive behaviour.
- LAWS RELATING TO CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE IN INDIA:
Till 2012, there was as such no proper legal context in India which deals with child sexual abuse. Initially, sex crimes against children were secure by section 354, 375, 377, 509 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. Section 354 deals with “Assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty”. Section 374 deals with rape, section 509 say any person who anticipates insulting the modesty of a woman through word, act or sign and Section 377 deals with unnatural offences. In 2012, the POSCO (Protection of Children against Sexual Offences Act) was passed by the Parliament of India for the sufferers of child sexual abuse below 18 years.
- PROVISIONS OF POSCO (PROTECTION OF CHILDREN AGAINST SEXUAL OFFENCES ACT)
- Within 24 hours of reporting to the police, the matter should be presented before the child welfare committee.
- Only a female officer can record the statement of the minor either at his/her house or at the place where the child feels comfortable.
- In order to ensure confidentiality, there are provisions for in- camera proceedings and speedy trial.
- The minor can be testified through video from home in order to avoid repeated visits.
- A medical test of minor should only be conducted by a female doctor in the presence of minor’s trusted person by the consent of his parents or guardian if present, otherwise medical practitioners consent on minor’s behalf is considered.
- It is the duty of the defence to ask questions which do not assassin the character of a minor. All the questions should be transmitted through a judge.
- During the recording of evidence minor should not be thrown before the suspect, a contact between them should be avoided.
- PROVISIONS OF PUNISHMENT UNDER POSCO:
- Punishment of seven years extended up to life imprisonment and fine under section 4 of the POSCO act for penetrative sexual assault.
- If any trusted person or a police officer commits sexual assault then the person would be liable under section 6 of POSCO act for punishment not less than 10 years and extended up to rigorous imprisonment and fine.
- A person shall be punished with 3 years extended up to 5 years for non- penetrative sexual assault done with a sexual intent under section 10 of the POSCO act.
- The POSCO act contains a provision of 3 years punishment under section 12 for sexual harassment.
Through this article, the writer wants to convey that now- a- days parents should pay more attention to the environment of a child. They should ensure that the child gets a safe and secure environment, as a child is a prodigy for a nation so the child should be protected by the outside atrocities and crimes. As we can see through the recent landmark case “The Kathua Rape Case”, where a minor girl named Asifa was raped by eight men suffered death by their hand was an eye-opener case for the entire nation. This case makes us ponder upon that there should be more serious punishments and laws made for the protection of a child.
 Child-on-child sexual abuse, Wikipedia (2018), https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Child-on-child_sexual_abuse&oldid=869052577 (last visited Dec 6, 2018).
 Child Sexual Abuse, RAINN, https://www.rainn.org/articles/child-sexual-abuse.
 My Body Belongs To ME, ADVOCATES UNITED FOR HUMANITY, http://advocatesunited4humanity.weebly.com/my-body-belongs-to-me.html.
 guidelines_chap7.pdf, ,http://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/resources/publications/en/guidelines_chap7.pdf.
 My Body Belongs To ME, supra note 3.
 Guest Post, What Are The Laws Related To Child Sexual Abuse In India iPleaders (2016), https://blog.ipleaders.in/laws-related-child-sexual-abuse-india/.
 POCSO-ModelGuidelines.pdf, http://wcd.nic.in/sites/default/files/POCSO-ModelGuidelines.pdf.
 -There is no excuse, speak about the child abuse- | 4995647 | Members Lounge Forum, https://www.india-forums.com/forum_posts.asp?TID=4995647.