Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act
- Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act was enacted on June 19, 2012.
- The aim of the act is the protection of children from sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography.
- It also provides for establishment of Special Courts for trial of such offences and related matters and incidents.
- Goa Children’s Act of 2003 was the only specific piece of child abuse legislation before the POCSO Act 2012.
- The act for the first time was amended in 2019 to enhance the punishment up to death penalty for aggravated penetrative sexual assault of the child.
Features of the POCSO Act
- The Act has been made gender neutral and it regards the best interests and welfare of the child as the matter of utmost importance at every stage.
- This has been done to ensure the healthy physical, emotional, intellectual and social development of the child.
- The act makes it mandatory to conduct regular police verifications of each and every man or woman in the vicinity of where children generally come, like schools, academies, sports activities centers, care homes or day care centers, and many others.
- A number of vocational courses and training curriculum has been made available for the police officials and forensic experts, to improve their expertise in their respective fields.
- The act makes provisions to punish people who traffic children for sexual purposes, under the provisions relating to abetment.
- The Act prescribes stringent punishment which is to be graded based on the gravity of the offence, up to a maximum sentence of rigorous imprisonment for life, and fine.
- Age-appropriate instructional material has been made part of school curriculum, to instruct them safety measures, control emotions, etc.
- The governments have additionally been tasked with formulating zero-tolerance protection principle in case of sexual abuse of children.
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