The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act of 2012 (POSCO), as accorded by the president of India, aims to offer protections to children (individual before the age of 18) from sexual violence, namely sexual assault, sexual harassment and the inclusion of children in pornography.
A brief description of the POSCO Act
Exceptional ‘Clause’ – an individual accused of sexual offence to children is guilty unless proven innocent.
Civil or criminal charges shall not be pressed against individuals reporting cases of child related sexual offence with proper intentions.
A defaulter in reporting child sexual abuse, in spite of prior knowledge, is punishable.
Child sexual abuse is acknowledged as more severe if it is perpetrated by an officer of the law, namely y a police officer or security personnel or a member of the army or a public servant or a personnel pertaining to a rehabilitation center, a remand home, jail, medical center or educational institute.
In case of a child sex abuse complaint being lodged with the special juvenile police unit or the local police, who is vested with the responsibility with the measures for aid and restitution for the victim of such abuse.
Child friendly procedures as incorporated in POSCO:
Recording the statement of the child at the residence of the child or at the place of his choice, preferably by a women police officer not below the rank of sub-inspector. Evidence has to be recorded within 30 days.
No child to be detained in the police station in the night for any reason.
Police officer not to be in uniform while recording the statement of the child.
Assistance of an interpreter or translator or an expert as per the need of the child.
Child not to see accused at the time of testifying. The evidence of the child shall be recorded within a period of 30 days of the cognizance of the offence.
Assistance of special educator or any person familiar with the manner of communication of the child I case child is disabled.
Medical examination of the child to be conducted in the presence of the parent of the child or any other person in whom the child has trust or confidence.
In case the victim is a girl child, the medical examination shall be conducted by a female doctor.
Child not to be called repeatedly to testify and frequent breaks to be given to the child during the trial.
Trial to be in the special court in camera
The public outrage in the country, streaming from an increasing number of child sex abuse cases ,continues unabated while the agony of the wretched victims remains mostly unnoticed . Equally deplorable is the condition of the victims family , who pervaded by the helplessness and confusion, has no clue as to how to handle the consequences of the abhorrent crime inflicted upon one of the family members.
In a country where 40% of the population falls below the age bracket of 18 years and where, as per a survey conducted in 2007, 53% children have been subjected to some form of sexual abuse or other, the proper implementation of POSCO is a necessity of yesterday.