The Union Cabinet, on Friday, approved amendments to the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012.
The changes prescribe stringent punishment, including death penalty for aggravated penetrative sexual assault of children. Further, hefty fine would be imposed for not deleting, not destroying child pornographic material or not reporting child pornography.
Additionally, the amendments also propose to protect children from assault “in times of natural calamities and disasters and in cases where children are administered, in any way, any hormone or any chemical substance, to attain early sexual maturity for the purpose of penetrative sexual assault”, a statement said.
The official release stated that the amendment is “expected to discourage the trend of child sexual abuse by acting as a deterrent due to strong penal provisions incorporated in the Act. It may protect the interest of vulnerable children in times of distress and ensures their safety and dignity. The amendment aims to establish clarity regarding the aspects of child abuse and punishment thereof.”
Elaborating on the proposal, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad was quoted as saying, “Attempt to inject hormones in children to make them major has been made an aggravated offence under Section 9 of the POCSO Act."
“Our children should be protected from sexual offences… It is to ensure this that the Cabinet has approved amendments to the POCSO Act. Now, those taking advantage of children in heinous ways will be severely punished,” NDTV further quoted him saying.
The Parliament had, earlier this year, passed the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018 making the rape of a girl below the age of twelve years an offence punishable with death. The Act had replaced the Ordinance promulgated by the Central Government in April 2018, in wake of the public outcry over Kathua incident of rape and murder of a minor girl.