06 July 2021.
The NSS Unit of Government Degree College Khansahib in collaboration with Sakshi NGO conducted a webinar on the theme “Child Sexual Abuse & POCSO Act-2012” on 06 July 2021.
Dr. Ramya Nisal, a consultant general surgeon and trainer at Sakshi, gave an extensive overview about child sexual abuse and legal framework in the country. She talked about the Sakshi vs Union of India case of 26 May 2004 when the former filed a Public Interest Litigation in the Supreme Court for protection of children from sexual violence and need for a legislation to deal with such offences. Against this backdrop, the Parliament of India passed the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act in 2012. The offences covered in the Act included: Penetrative Sexual Assault, Aggravated Penetrative Sexual Assault, Sexual Assault, Aggravated Sexual Assault, Sexual Harassment, Using a Child for Pornographic Purposes etc. Section 21(1) says that a person who fails to report the commission of offence or who fails to record such offence shall be punished with an imprisonment of six months/fine or both. False information or a false complaint against a child will entail the punishment extendable upto one year. The responsibility of reporting lays with parents, public servants, doctors, social workers, teachers etc. People shall report the offences with the Local Police, Child Welfare Committees, CHILDLINE 1098, and State Commission for Protection of Child Rights or National Commission for Protection of Child Rights. Punishment for child sexual offences ranged from five to ten years imprisonment/fine or both depending on nature of the crime. The Act was amended in 2019 for strict and rigorous punishment, including life imprisonment and death penalty, for the perpetrators and ensuring security and dignified childhood for the victims. Dr. Nisal, based on her vast experience in the field, observes that cultural barriers still prevent parents and general public from reporting the child abuse cases. “Only around 50 per cent cases are being repotted…. while one in every two children faces some form of abuse”, she said. She laid emphasis on educating and sensitizing children about sexual organs. Child sexual abuse severely impacts mental/psychological health of a child. The resource person sought a more proactive role from the state and society in rehabilitating the victims. She highlighted the role of Rakshin Project, a non-profit organisation based in New Delhi, in creating awareness and in fighting the child sexual abuse in India.
Earlier, Mr. Shahnawaz Alum, faculty at GDC Khansahib introduced the topic and panelists for the audience. Dr. Syed Tanvir Indrabi, of the institution, gave the welcome address and spoke on the imperatives of having stringent laws for dealing with child offences. For effective implementation of relevant laws he laid emphasis on the significance of law enforcement agencies like police and judicial intervention. The programme concluded with the vote of thanks by Dr. Mohd. Mohsin, Assistant Professor of English.