HOME‎ > ‎

Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Bill 2011/12 (INDIA) - Analysis

PCSOB 2011/12: New Act – good intentions, loopholes aplenty... Passed Finally!

*Chris Valentino, Last updated on June 02, 1900 hrs.

The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Bill cleared by the Cabinet on March 03, 2011 has finally been passed by Parliament. Amir Khan's take on the issue, has also added to the fast-processing. It is a well-meaning, welcome legislation with lacunae. Something better than nothing... to allow little buds blossom fully.

Mumbai: One of India’s main societal concerns has been the care of children. Apart from other important provisions made for children in India, the prevention and protection of children from sexual offences has been on the priority list for long. The PCSOB 2011 (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Bill) approved by the Parliament and cleared by the Cabinet on March 3, 2011 is thus a pathbreaking legislation. Intended primarily as a deterrent against the sexual exploitation of children, the bill provides for protection of children from sexual abuse and proposes stringent punishment. 

The bill aims to prevent and protect children from sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography. While there is general appreciation for the new bill, there is also an equal apprehension about its enforceability among members of society.  The bill has invited applause and criticism from various sections. Academia and activists, psychiatrists, doctors and parents have generally welcomed the new legislation, though some have voiced various concerns and questions. 

Upside: Experts believe that the PCSOB 2011 has many positives (listed below) to protect children against sexual abuse:

  • Treating sexual assault as “aggravated offence” when a person in authority or position of trust commits the offence. It also considers the physical/mental disability and the long-term after-effects of the injury inflicted.
  • Special provision preventing pornographic abuse or even possession of such material. It also places the media, studio and photographic facilities under obligation to report such matters.
  • Designated special courts that will decide cases in a time-bound manner. It also spells out the various procedures of investigation, trial and sensitive dispensation of justice.
  • Guidelines for media to sensitively and discreetly report cases without inflicting pain of identification of the victim.

Downside: Many activists like Anuradha Sahasrabuddhe of the Juvenile Justice Board, Bharati Kotwal of Muskaan and Ingrid Mendonca of ARC point out its flaws:

  • Maximum punishment for the gravest offence – penetrative sex – is only ten years.
  • Only recommends and not mandated counseling for victims and families.
  • No sufficient stress on internet-based pornography
  •  Consensual non-penetrative sex for twelve year olds.
  • Legalising consensual sex at 16 years  without provision for punishment
  • No specification of accountability or compensation from those accountable, including the judiciary.

While there is uproar and a feeling that there are many questions yet to be answered, the PCSOB 2011 atleast provides much-needed solace to victims and their families. HAQ -Centre for Child Rights and other independent analysers have commented exclusively on the PCSOB2011. 

NCPCR – The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights Chairperson Shantha Sinha and Women and Child Development Minister Krishna Tirath have welcomed the bill while taking up issues of concern with the Home Ministry. Meanwhile, Dr. Krishna Pal Malik Asst. Professor of Law at the Nirma University of Law, Ahmedabad has provided pertinent insights and remarks on the PCSOB  2011.

The PCSOB 2011 is a good intentioned legislation intending to uphold the dignity while preventing and protecting children from sexual offences. However it does have a few lacunae that need to be plugged. The provisions in the bill need to be enforced and till that happens it will just be another paper legislation adding to the plethora of acts, while the woes of millions of child-victims continue.

Related Links:

May 23, 2012: Lok Sabha passes Bill to protect children from Sex Abuse

Sounds of Silence: Child Sexual Abuse in India
Child sexual abuse – law and lacunae
Consensual sex with children
Jail-term for child sexual offenders
Lowering age, decriminalising innocent behaviour
Juvenile Justice Rules 2011 - Gujarat
PCSOB 2011 Draft Bill
PCSOB 2011 approved
HAQ comment

Amir Khan's take on CSA (Child Sexual Abuse in India)