Thursday, March 3, 2011

Cabinet approves bill to check sexual abuse of children

New Delhi: A pathbreaking bill dealing exclusively with sexual offences against children was passed by the Union Cabinet on Thursday providing for a jail term up to seven years and a fine of Rs 50,000 for such crimes.
The protection of children against sexual offences bill, 2011, also legalised consensual sex with a person aged between 16-18 years. The new law will cover all new aspects of sexual offences against children not covered elsewhere.
The proposed legislation aims at protecting children against offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment, pornography and provide for establishment of special courts for trial of such offences.
The bill provides for treating sexual assault as “aggravated offence” when it is committed by a person in position of trust or authority over a child including a member of the security forces, police officer, public servant, management or staff of a children’s home, hospital or educational institution.
It will be treated as an aggravated offence where the child victim is below 12 years or has mental or physical disability or the sexual offence causes grievous hurt or injury to the child with long term adverse effect on the child’s mind and body. The punishment for such offence will be jail of up to seven years with fine.
The punishment for penetrative sexual assault has been proposed to be at least five years in jail and a minimum fine of Rs 50,000. Sexual assault also includes fondling the child in an inappropriate way which will invite a penalty of minimum three years in jail.
Section seven of the bill provides for “no punishment” if the consent for sexual act has been obtained with a person aged between 16 to 18 years.
There is a special provision in the bill preventing abuse of children for pornographic purpose or possessing pornographic material involving children. There will be an obligation on the media, studio and photographic facilities not to report such cases and failure to do so will attract punishment. The media has been barred from reporting the cases without having complete and authentic information and from disclosing the identity of the child. PTI

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