The central government has said that a victim of sexual abuse faced as a child can register a complaint at any age.
In a significant development amid multiple cases of alleged sexual abuse and a raging debate on the issue of dignity of women, the central government has said that a victim of sexual abuse faced as a child can register a complaint at any age. In a statement issued on Tuesday, the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) said that the decision is based on its recent consultation with the Ministry of Law in view of the overriding provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act over other criminal laws and provisions of mandatory reporting of such offences.
“The Ministry of Law after examining the provisions of POCSO Act vis-à-vis provisions of CrPC has advised that there appears no period of limitation mentioned in Section 19 in regard to reporting of the offences under the POCSO Act, 2012. The POCSO Act does not provide for any period of limitation for reporting the child sexual offences,” the statement read.
Reacting to the development, Union minister Maneka Gandhi said that now any victim, at any age can complain the sexual abuse faced by them as a child and urged them to come forward and report through the POCSO e-Box.
POCSO e-Box is a complaint management system that operates completely online for reporting sexual offences against children. The e-Box can be accessed through the official website of National Commission for Protection of Child Rights. Anyone, a victim or an adult, can file a complaint about a child facing sexual abuse. For small children, the portal offers pictorial aides to make the procedure simple.
The development assumes significance after considering the fact that on many occasions children are unable to report crimes that they suffered as the perpetrator in many cases happens to be from the family itself or any other known person. Several cases have been reported where the victims have grown up and understood the crime.
The POCSO Act came into force in 2012 as a gender-neutral law to protect the children against offences like sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography. It was formed to provide a child-friendly system for trial and provides protection to all children under the age of 18 years.
In April this year, the Union cabinet cleared the ordinance on POCSO act whereby death penalty will be given to those convicted of raping a child up to 12 years of age.