Critically discuss the policy and legislative mechanisms in India to prevent child abuse? Why these mechanisms fail to act as the deterrent?|
Child abuse is a serious issue which can have an adverse impact on the growth and development of the child. Child abuse can be classified as emotional, physical and sexual abuse.
The government has taken various legislative and policy initiatives to prevent such issues. The initiatives by the government are :
Legislative provisions to prevent child abuse
- Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012
Before the enactment of POCSO the child abuses cases were penalized under section 377 of IPC. The problem was that the section did not differentiate between adult and child. However, POCSO is gender neutral law and defines a child as any person below 18 years of age as a child. The punishment provisions are stringent along with the provision of fast track courts, relief and rehabilitation. The National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) and State Commissions for the Protection of Child Rights (SCPCRs) are the designated authorities to monitor the implementation of the Act.
Various policy initiatives
- Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS)
In order to ensure the safety of children, the policy emphasis on juveniles in conflict or other vulnerable children who need care and protection.
- POCSO E-Box
To make online complaint easy and for direct reporting of sexual offences against children.
- National Commission for Protection of Child Rights
It is a statutory body under Protection of Child Rights Act, 2005. This body also monitors the implementation of POCSO.
However, despite various initiatives, these mechanisms fail to act as a deterrent. Due to inadequate infrastructure and absence of child-friendly environment, the trial itself becomes a torture process so reporting of such crimes is low. Consequently, the conviction rate is very low, so the fear of punishment does not act as a deterrent. Another issue is the poor implementation of law therefore even after reporting the victim faces a lot of issues. Also callous of the police, doctors and lawyers have not changed even after law.
The need of the hour is to ensure effective implementation of the provisions, along with that the authorities should be trained to handle matters related to child abuse in a sensitive manner.