Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad today said that the cabinet has approved amendments to the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, further strengthening the law to safeguard minors in the country. The provision of death penalty has also been included for those found guilty of aggravated assault on a child.
"This is a very wholesome initiative by the Union government. The government has brought about a far-reaching amendment in the POCSO Act. Our aim is to prevent children from falling victim to sexual aggression," he told reporters at a press meet today.
Mr Prasad claimed that the architecture of POCSO has not only been strengthened but also expanded through this move. "There are some who cause premature development in children through the administration of hormones to enhance their appeal in the sex trade and pornography industry. Doing this has now been made a major offence through Section 9 of the Act," he said, adding that drugs should not be abused to "kill the childhood of a child" for extraneous purposes.
Mr Prasad also listed out the ways in which the government plans to curtail access to child pornography. "Another objective of this provision is to curb the proliferation of child pornography. Anybody found circulating such material for commercial or other purposes will also face stringent punishment," he said.
The POCSO Act was enacted in 2012 to provide a robust legal framework for the protection of children from sexual assault, harassment and pornography while safeguarding the interests of the child at every stage of the judicial process. However, the recent rise in child abuse cases has led to demands that the law be made more stringent to deter offenders. Several states, including Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, have approved the death penalty for those found guilty of raping children below 12 years of age.