The Central Government has amended the Protection Of Children From Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. The amended act came to effect from March 9, 2020. It now contains the provisions for compensation to the child, compulsory police verification of all the staff at school and stringent punishment to those found distributing or possessing child pornographic content. Along with this, the Central government has also directed State Governments to formulate stringent POCSO policy with zero tolerance in violence against children.
- The Union Government notified the Protection of Children From Sexual Offences (POCSO), 2020, which came into effect on 9th March 2020.
- The notification includes new provisions added to the act in order to make it more stringent. It now requires compulsory police verification of the staff at school and also the provision of compensation to the victim.
- Additionally, State Governments have also been directed to formulate strict POCSO policy with zero tolerance to violence against children.
- The notification also states that both – the Central and State Government will be providing periodic training including orientation programmes, sensitisation workshops and refresher courses.
Inclusion Of Child Pornography In POCSO
The notification introducing the inclusions in the act states mandatory police verification of staff in schools and care homes, procedures to report sexual abuse material (pornography), and imparting age-appropriate child rights education. Regarding child pornography, the notification states, “Any person who has received any pornographic material involving a child or any information regarding such pornographic material being stored, possessed, distributed, circulated, transmitted, facilitated, propagated or displayed, or is likely to be distributed, facilitated or transmitted in any manner shall report the contents to the SJPU or local police, or as the case may be, cyber-crime portal (cybercrime.gov.in) and upon such receipt of the report, the SJPU or local police or the cyber-crime portal take the necessary action as per the directions of the Government issued from time to time.”
“There are laws and laws, but until we take proactive measures that not only penalise culprits with prison term but also works on ensuring there is a total change in the mindset of people, things will take time to change. I’m glad they have taken cognizance of child pornography. I have, in the past, reported such material to the police and the Mumbai Police was proactive in taking action,” says Harish Iyer, Human Rights Activist.
“The report shall include the details of the device in which such pornographic content was noticed and the suspected device from which such content was received including the platform on which the content was displayed,” the rules added.
There are laws and laws, but until we take proactive measures that not only penalise culprits with prison term but also works on ensuring there is a total change in the mindset of people, things will take time to change.
Orientation Programmes And Sensitization Workshops
“The Central Government and every State Government shall provide periodic trainings including orientation programmes, sensitization workshops and refresher courses to all persons, whether regular or contractual, coming in contact with the children, to sensitize them about child safety and protection and educate them regarding their responsibility under the Act. Orientation programme and intensive courses may also be organized for police personnel and forensic experts for building their capacities in their respective roles on a regular basis,” the notification added.
For people who spend their time with children, either at school or at other public places, the notification reads, ” Any institution housing children or coming in regular contact with children including schools, creches, sports academies or any other facility for children must ensure a police verification and background check on periodic basis, of every staff, teaching or non-teaching, regular or contractual, or any other person being an employee of such Institution coming in contact with the child. Such Institution shall also ensure that periodic training is organised for sensitising them on child safety and protection.”
The Central Government has directed the State Governments to formulate a policy based on zero tolerance towards violence against children. “The respective Governments shall formulate a child protection policy based on the principle of zero-tolerance to violence against children, which shall be adopted by all institutions, organizations, or any other agency working with or coming in contact with children,” it reads.
Regarding filing of such cases by the civilians, Iyer adds, “However, much of these cases go unreported. People should be willing to have a dialogue with the police so that the unreported cases get reported.”
Picture Credit- KTTN-FM