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Stop Child sexual abuse


IMA White Paper Stop Child sexual abuse

Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act,

  • Child means any one below the age of 18 years.
  • The act applies to all cases of sexual assault to  a child.
  • Any sexual activity with a child (boy or girl) is a crime.
  • The act defines sexual offences against children and prescribes the punishment for the same 
  • Sexual offences can be penetrative sexual assault (Sec. 3), sexual assault (non-penetrative – Sec. 7), sexual harassment (Sec. 11), and use of a child for pornography (Sec. 13)
  • A person commits Penetrative Sexual Assault of a child below 18 years if he inserts his penis or any other object into the vagina, anus, urethra or any part of the body of the child, or causes any other person to do so to the child, or applies his mouth to any such part of the body of the child.
  • Penetrative sexual assault of a child below 18 years is punishable with imprisonment of a minimum of seven years, up to imprisonment for life.
  • If a person touches the penis, vagina, anus, breast or any other part of the body of a child below 18 years of age with sexual intent, or causes any other person to do so, or causes the child to do so to him or any other person, he is said to commit (non-penetrative) Sexual Assault.
  • Sexual assault of a child below 18 years is punishable with imprisonment for three to five years.
  • Sexual assault and penetrative sexual assault of a child below eighteen years of age are considered to be aggravated when committed by a person in a position of trust or authority such as police/army/security personnel, public servants or family member, persons in management or staff of educational, medical or religious institution or persons in management or staff of jail, remand home, protection home, observation home, or any other place of custody or care and protection.
  • Aggravated penetrative sexual assault of a child below 18 years is punishable with imprisonment of a minimum of ten years, up to imprisonment for life.
  • Aggravated sexual assault of a child below 18 years is punishable with imprisonment for five to seven years.
  • A person commits sexual harassment when, with sexual intent, in respect of  child below 18 years of age, he utters a word or makes a sound or a gesture exhibits a part of his body or any other object or makes the child exhibit a part of his body, or shows an object or any form of media to the child for pornographic purposes, or repeatedly follows the child or watches him directly or through digital, electronic or other means, or threatens to use any part of the body of the child or the involvement of the child in a sexual act in any form of media, or entices the child for pornographic purposes or gives the child gratification for this.
  • Sexual harassment of a child below 18 years of age is punishable with imprisonment of three years.
  • A person commits the offence of pornography if he uses a child below 18 years of age in any form of media for sexual gratification. This includes the representation of the sexual organs of the child, images showing the child in real or simulated sexual acts, or the indecent or obscene representation of the child. 
  • Use of a child below 18 years of age for pornographic purposes is punishable with imprisonment of five years. 

Offense Section Definition Punishment: Imprisonment

Penetrative Sexual Assault 3 A person commits Penetrative Sexual Assault of a child if he inserts his penis or any other object into the vagina, anus, urethra or any part of the body of the child, or causes any other person to do so to the child, or applies his mouth to any such part of the body of the child. 7 years to life Sexual Assault (Non penetrative) 7 If a person touches the penis, vagina, anus, breast or any other part of the body of a child below 18 years of age with sexual intent, or causes any other person to do so, or causes the child to do so to him or any other person, he is said to commit (non-penetrative) Sexual Assault.

3-5 years 

Aggravated Sexual assault (penetrative and non penetrative) Sexual assault and penetrative sexual assault of a child are considered to be aggravated when committed by a person in a position of trust or authority such as police/army/security personnel, public servants or family member, persons in management or staff of educational, medical or religious institution or persons in management or staff of jail, remand home, protection home, observation home, or any other place of custody or care and protection. Penetrative: 10 years to life and non penetrative: 5-7 years 

Sexual harassment 11 A person commits sexual harassment when, with sexual intent, in respect of  child below 18 years of age, he utters a word or makes a sound or a gesture exhibits a part of his body or any other object or makes the child exhibit a part of his body, or shows an object or any form of media to the child for pornographic purposes, or repeatedly follows the child or watches him directly or through digital, electronic or other means, or threatens to use any part of the body of the child or the involvement of the child in a sexual act in any form of media, or entices the child for pornographic purposes or gives the child gratification for this.

3 years 

Use of a child for pornography 13 A person commits the offence of pornography if he uses a child below 18 years of age in any form of media for sexual gratification. This includes the representation of the sexual organs of the child, images showing the child in real or simulated sexual acts, or the indecent or obscene representation of the child. 

5 years

What every doctor must know

  • Every case of sexual assault is a medical emergency.
  • Child sexual abuse has lifelong consequences on the physical and mental health of the child. The impact of the abuse will depend on the duration and frequency of the exposure to abuse, the age of the child and the support network available.
  • No medical facility, public or private, can deny emergency medical care and medical examination to a victim of suspected sexual assault. 
  • Treatment has to be provided free of cost by government as well as private medical facilities. 
  • Not providing free emergency medical care or medical examination to a child who has been or is suspected of having been sexually assaulted can result in imprisonment for one year or fine or both for the doctor (Section 357C CrPC).
  • Not reporting a case of sexual assault or suspected sexual assault of a child can result in imprisonment of six months, or fine or both for the doctor (Section 19[1] ). The report has to be made to the nearest police station or Special Juvenile Police Unit
  • Medical examination of a child with sexual assault must be conducted in the presence of the parent or guardian of the child or some other person in whom the child has trust and confidence. If there is no such person available, the head of the medical institution must nominate a woman to be present during the examination.
  • Medical examination of a victim with sexual assault must be conducted, in the case of a female child, by a female doctor.
  • FIR or permission from a magistrate, police or any other authority cannot be demanded by any medical facility or centre for providing emergency medical care to a child who has been or who may have been sexually assaulted.
  • In a case of sexual assault informed consent must be taken from the child above 12 years of age, or, where the child is below 12 years of age, the child’s parent/ guardian, before medically examining the child. In case consent is not given, informed refusal must be documented by the doctor.
  • Lack of medical evidence DOES NOT mean no sexual offence was committed. Evidence may have been lost due to healing of older injuries, use of condom by the offender, and post-assault activities such as washing, douching, urination and defecation. 
  • Doctors must protect children from sexual assault and its consequences. They should teach parents about safe, unsafe and uncomfortable touch and how to keep their children safe. 
  • Doctors must teach children how to protect themselves from sexual assault.
  • Doctors must provide appropriate care and treatment to the survivor of sexual assault.
  • Doctors should give social, psychological and legal guidance to the sexual assault survivor and the family.
  • In a case of sexual assault doctors should help the process of justice delivery by conducting accurate and complete forensic medical examination and be willing to testify in court.
  • Forensic examination needs to be conducted within 96 hours and requires evidence collection such as blood, semen, sperm, hair etc. linking to perpetrator.
  • With timely medical care and mental health support, a child who is a survivor of sexual abuse can resume a normal and healthy life.
  • Doctors should prominently display the Childline number (1098) in their clinics and hospitals. Any case of known or suspected child abuse or neglect can be reported to this number.
  • It is the duty of the doctor to prevent the occurrence of child sexual abuse by teaching parents how to talk to their children about safe, unsafe and uncomfortable touch, and teaching children about personal safety.