POCSO ACT (Syllabus: GS Paper 2 – Vulnerable Sections)

News-CRUX-10     3rd May 2024        

Context: The Supreme Court recently emphasized that the objectives of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act cannot be overlooked, especially as perpetrators resort to marrying their minor victims to evade punishment, despite the persistence of child marriages.

Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012.

  • About: This Act comprehensively outlines different categories of sexual offenses directed at children and imposes severe penalties on those found guilty of such crimes.
  • Establishment: 2012
  • Salient features:

o Gender neutral: The Act is gender neutral and regards the best interests and welfare of the child as a matter of paramount importance at every stage so as to ensure the healthy physical, emotional, intellectual and social development of the child.

o Child definition: Any person below the age of 18.

o Forms of abuse: It defines different forms of sexual abuse, including penetrative and non-penetrative assault, as well as sexual harassment and pornography, and deems a sexual assault to be “aggravated” under certain circumstances.

o Stringent Punishment: The Act prescribes stringent punishment graded as per the gravity of the offence, with a maximum term of rigorous imprisonment for life, and fine.

o Child pornography: It defines "child pornography" as any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a child which include photograph, video, digital or computer-generated image indistinguishable from an actual child, and image created, adapted, or modified, but appear to depict a child.

POCSO Rules 2020

  • Police Verification: Provision for mandatory police verification of staff in schools and care homes.
  • Age-Appropriate: Emphasis on imparting age-appropriate child rights education.
  • Child Pornography: Requirement for reporting any receipt or knowledge of child pornography to authorities.

o Reporting to be directed to the Special Juvenile Police Unit (SJPU), police, or cybercrime portal.

  • Child Protection Policy: Directive for State Governments to formulate a comprehensive child protection policy.
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