The onus is on society
In a country where the life of a common man comes cheap and no one takes accountability for what could go wrong, children remain the most vulnerable of the lot. And the ways in which they are vulnerable to personal trauma of several kinds, no class divide or level of protection by the family keeps them absolutely safe. Whether it is a poor man's child dwelling in a shanty town always at a risk of being kidnapped, or a rich man's child growing up in the comfort of safety of a home to the extent that someone who is trusted with the child actually end up violating them; no child is ever truly safe and the reason for that primarily is the society we live in. In order to substantially address the grave and horrifying concern of child sexual abuse, the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 was formulated. It seeks to effectively address sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children through legal provisions. In a most recent move, the Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved amendments to POCSO Act and included the introduction of the death penalty in cases of aggravated sexual offences and penal provisions aimed at clamping down on child pornography. There have been 14 amendments in all, and they include some new sections which aim to make punishments for crimes against children, including digital offences, more stringent. The amendments seek to award the death penalty in cases of aggravated penetrative sexual assault of children. This is the monstrous extent to which children in this country are vulnerable. The Act defines a child as any person below eighteen years of age, making this act is gender neutral. This step in legislation is expected to discourage the trend of child sexual abuse by acting as a deterrent due to strong penal provisions incorporated. It may be argued that in committing a sexual offence against a child, it reflects the compounded sense of deprivation and/or impunity on the part of the offender. In such a case, a legal deterrence is definitely needed but more than that, it is important to allow for a healthy environment to develop where it is instilled as collective ethics that a child is always meant to be protected and never ever wronged in any manner. Death penalty alone is not enough to do justice. The society must grow and evolve for the safety and security of children.