Strengthening POCSO Act

POCSO Act - Classic IAS Academy

In News

The Union Cabinet has given its approval to amendments to the Protection of Children From Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act) which gave a new definition to child pornography.

In-Detail

  • So far, there is no clear definition of Child Pornography in Indian laws.
  • Section 67 of the IT Act and Section 293 of the IPC defines it clearly allowing the offenders to scot-free.
  • In such a scenario, the proposed amendments to the POCSO Act clearly defines what entails child pornography.
  • The new definition says, “Any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a child which include photographs, video, digital or computer-generated image indistinguishable from an actual child and an image created, adapted or modified but appear to depict a child.”
  • In essence, the amendment will make people watching, possessing, spreading/sharing content depicting sexual acts on underage children a punishable offense that could lead to a jail term.

POCSO Act

  • The Act was enacted in 2012.
  • It is to protect children from sexual assault.
  • It is a gender-neutral act.
  • As per the act, any person below the age of 18 is considered as a child.
  • It has many stringent provisions.

The Amendments

  • Ministry of Women and Child Development has proposed the amendments to the Act.
  • As per the proposals, the fine for possessing and not deleting child porn is Rs. 5000/-. If the intention of such a holder is to spread rather than reporting it then the punishment is up to three years in jail.
  • It is also an offense under the new definition, of adults pretending as children and holding sexually explicit content where digitally morphed images are used.
  • This addresses the issue of cyberbullying of children by using morphed images.
  • The amendments also include the death penalty in cases where aggravated assault is involved.

Conclusion

Child pornography has become a major problem in India. Much of such content which are clearly pornographic in nature has withstood scrutiny for the want of proper definition. The new definition proposed by the WCD Ministry gives clarity on what entails child pornography.

The proposed amendments to the POCSO Act also acts as a strong deterrent against child sexual offences. They will strengthen the Act and give more teeth to the law enforcement agencies to act against such offenders.

Already the government has signed an MoU with the US to tackle the issue of child pornography where the US’s National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) will share tipline reports on child pornography and child exploitation content with India’s National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). The reports along with the proposed amendments will help the law enforcement agencies to act fast and bring the culprits to book. Already the government has signed an MoU with the US to tackle the issue of child pornography where the US’s National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) will share tipline reports on child pornography and child exploitation content with India’s National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). The reports along with the proposed amendments will help the law enforcement agencies to act fast and bring the culprits to book.

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