Crime against minor sends shockwaves through Sikkim

Crime against minor sends shockwaves through Sikkim

Gangtok, July 4: According to recent data released by the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB), almost 109 children were sexually abused every day in India during the year 2018.

In the decade following 2008-2018, the overall crimes against children had doubled over six times. While not all of the cases are reported, NCRB data informs that 32,608 cases were reported in 2017 while 39,827 cases were reported in 2018 under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO).

Sikkim may pride itself on being different from the rest of the ‘mainland’ states of India, but in the past few years, heinous crimes against children, women and elderly have also come to light.

Just on Friday, it came to light that a nine-year-old female child had been allegedly sexually assaulted by a 47-year-old man at Namchi, South Sikkim, after the victim’s cousin brother complained to the Namchi Police Station on June 2.

The perpetrator is a taxi driver by profession and the victim’s neighbour as well. He has been sent into judicial custody on Friday afternoon and has been booked and under the POCSO Act, a case has been registered by the Namchi Police Station against him.

It was informed by the District Child Protection Officer (DCPO), South Sikkim that the victim has been handed over to the Child Welfare Committee and placed in a shelter home, where counselling has begun and are now in the process of slowly trying to heal her from the traumatic events.

There are many child abuse laws in the Indian Judicial System like the Juvenile Justice Act of 2000, which consolidates and amends the law relating to juveniles in conflict with law and children in need of care and protection, by providing for proper care, protection, and treatment by catering to their development needs, and by adopting a child-friendly approach in the adjudication and disposition of matters in the best interest of children and for their ultimate rehabilitation through various institutions established under this enactment.

The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act) 2012 was formulated to effectively address sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children. The Act serves to protect the interests of a child or a minor and to discourage the trend of child sexual abuse. Some of the key objectives of the POCSO Act are:

  • Penetrative sexual assault: The bill increases minimum punishment for this offence from 7 years to 10 years. It also provides for with imprisonment between 20 years to life, with fine if a person commits penetrative sexual assault on a child below the age of 16 years.
  • Aggravated penetrative sexual assault: The Bill adds two more grounds to the definition of aggravated penetrative sexual assault. These include (i) assault resulting in the death of child and (ii) assault committed during a natural calamity or in any similar situations of violence. It also increases minimum punishment from 10 years to 20 years, and maximum punishment to the death penalty.
  • Aggravated sexual assault: The Bill adds two more offences to the definition of aggravated sexual assault. These include- (i) assault committed during natural calamity and (ii) administrating or help in administering any chemical substance or any hormone to a child to attain early sexual maturity.
  • Child Pornography: The Bill defines child pornography as any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct that involves child such as photographs, video, digital or even computer-generated image indistinguishable from the actual child. It also enhances punishments for certain offences related to child pornography.
  • Storage of pornographic material: It increases punishment for storage of pornographic material with imprisonment between three to five years, or fine, or both. Besides, it also adds two other offences for storage of pornographic material involving children. These include: (i) transmitting, displaying, distributing such material except to report it and (ii) failing to destroy or delete or report pornographic material involving a child.

The above-mentioned perpetrator due to his crime comes under the label of a Paedophile or paedophilia which is a psychiatric disorder in which an adult or someone who is an older adolescent has a primary and exclusive special attraction to pre-pubescent children.