Responding to the long-pending demand and need for making anti-rape laws gender neutral, Union Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi has urged all States and Union Territories to include male child victims of sexual abuse in their victim compensation schemes and funds.
In a letter addressed to the Chief Ministers of all States and Union Territories, Ms. Gandhi has also requested them to ensure that the final, as well as interim compensation, is paid to the victims on time. As per a PIB release, the letter "stresses that male child who is the most neglected victim of child sexual abuse is being ignored for award of compensation and needs to be included".
In her letter, Ms. Gandhi has further asserted that the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act is gender neutral, and has highlighted the fact that even though 31 State Governments have notified their Victim Compensation Schemes under Rules 7 of the POCSO Rules, 2012, the disbursement of such compensation has not been "uniform or satisfactory".
Besides, she also draws the attention of the State Governments to the fact that in a few cases, the interim compensation to such minor victims was not being awarded to meet the immediate medical and other needs of the child for relief or rehabilitation.
The letter comes days after the Women and Child Development Ministry tweeted that the Government was planning to amend the POCSO Act to make it gender neutral.
Ms. Gandhi had also recently supported a petition on Change.org by filmmaker-activist Insia Dariwala, who said "male child sexual abuse is an ignored reality in India". Responding to the petition, Ms. Gandhi had said that a first-of-its-kind study on male survivors of child sexual abuse would be conducted.
"Another much-neglected sphere of child sexual abuse is male survivors. Child sexual abuse is gender neutral. Boys who are sexually abused as children spend a lifetime of silence because of the stigma and shame attached to male survivors speaking out. It is a serious problem and needs to be addressed," she had commented on the campaign website.