In wake of the Nithari killings; the Centre has finally felt the need of bill that addresses such crimes. The Ministry of Women and Child Development is bringing in a Bill, to prevent crimes against children especially sexual abuse and exploitation. The draft of The Prevention of Offences against Children Bill 2007 is ready and is awaiting the Cabinets approval, before being introduced in the Parliament.

The bill, aims to act upon people committing heinous acts of crime against children. As we have observed, in the recent year these crimes have no specific law to deal with and are treated under the existing laws.

As I learnt from an Indian Express report,

The legislations which specifically deal with physical, economic and sexual abuse of children are Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956, Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, and Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000. Certain provisions of the Indian Penal Code also deal with physical and sexual abuse of children.

As per a report on TOI today this bill has been drafted, keeping in mind the child psychology, and the trauma he/she undergoes during such crimes. Apart from stringent punishment for the accused, the bill also has provisions for rehabilitations of the accused.

The Ministry says that sexual abuse harassment and child pornography are the worst forms of child abuse and issues like these need specific attention.

Identifying “sexual and economic exploitation, domestic violence, trafficking for prostitution, corporal punishment at school and others” as child abuse, the ministry notes that issues ranging from health, nutrition, sports and recreation, other than protection from exploitation and abuse have already been taken up by the government through constitutional provisions, law, government policies and schemes.

This was a much needed law in India considering the rate of occurrence of such crimes. It’s because of the Nithari Killings that the Government is acting upon it. I believe that such laws should have been in place, ever since the child trafficking issue had surfaced a couple of years ago. I was Google-ing on this topic that I found some more information.

As in Wikipedia,

In addition, many states include in their penal code a so-called “Romeo exception”. This exception deals with situations in which a young adult above the age of consent performs a sexual activity with a someone under the age of consent; it exempts the young adult from being charged with a sex offense if the adult’s age is within three years of the minor’s age, and the adult did not use force or coercion on the minor. Another exemption under states sexual abuse laws that exists in some states applies to adults legally married to minors. Thus, said adults can legally have sexual relations with their spouses without violating the law

In addition, I found sites of similar laws from other countries. Canadian laws identify children less than 14 years of age as minors, US and Scotland have stringent laws that crack down upon the accused.

In India, we have TULIR – Centre for the Prevention and Healing of Child Sexual Abuse (CPHCSA), a registered, nongovernmental, non-profit organization committed to working against child sexual abuse in India. They have many services and programs like Personal Safety Education, Healing & Intervention etc for the cause.

What more, is to see to it that this law are used effectively to their fullest power. Rather than piling cases in courts these laws should be so designed, so that immediate action can be taken by responsible officials. The offenders should be punished for the mark they leave on the young tender minds. Citizens, should be made aware of not just the law but also which crimes come under this law, as many can use the term ‘Sexual Abuse’ in their own content and have their own meanings. All such issues should be clearly stated in the bill, so that it can’t be bent the way the accused want.