What Do We Know About POCSO Its Application For Asaram Bapu And Others?
- The Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act (POCSO) contemplates and specifies a range of acts that constitute child sexual abuse including inappropriate touching, forms of lewdness, penetration other than peno-vaginal, child pornography and so on. The law was framed to make it easier to get justice for victims of sexual abuse, lays down more humane ways to deal with victims and tries to avoid the re-victimisation of the child at the hands of the judicial system.
- Because of the law, more people are now coming forward to complain about sexual abuse and reporting of such cases has reportedly doubled because of increasing awareness. However there are also allegations about the law being misused by people. In particular, it is the case of Asaram Bapu who has been accused of sexual abuse of a minor that is cited to demonstrate that the law is misused.
- Because of the POCSO law many stories relating to the horrendous fact of child abuse in India are coming to the fore. One story is that of the 13 year old girl raped by a man twice her age was charged under the act as well as other provisions of the law after he distributed MMS clips of the act. (source) . A truck driver has been booked under the act for having promised to marry a 14 year old girl, having had sex with her, then refusing to marry her. (Source)
- The law also brings under its ambit offences against minors, boys, the disabled and other who did not previously get protection under the IPC. In the matter of sexual abuse of a 5 year old boy from Kerala, an FIR has been filed against the maternal uncle and friend of the child. (source). In a school in Rohini, Delhi, a 9 year old student of class III was sexually assaulted by a lab technician who has now been booked under POCSO (Source). A 15-year-old mentally challenged girl was sexually assented by a hospital liftman and in this matter as well a case has been registered under the child sexual harassment act. (Source)
- In the matter of Asaram Bapu, the Godman has been charged of sexually assaulting a minor girl on the pretext of exorcising evil spirits. After missing a deadline because of supposed ill health, he was questioned by police in the matter. He was arrested and is awaiting trial in the matter.
- The technical plea of the age of the victim in the matter has been raised – this is the fifth time that the age of the victim has been challenged by the representative of the accused. According to R L Meena, public prosecutor, this is a pretext to facilitate bail and lessen the severity of charges levels against the accused.
- Poor health has also been cited as a reason for granting bail to the Godman; who supposedly has a neurological aliment known as trigeminal neuralgia (a condition causing severe facial pain)
- Today the hastag # ModiSirRemoveUnfairPOCSOlaw has been trending on Twitter. Supporters and followers of the Godman are appealing for the repeal of the law. For some reason possible misuse of the law is of far greater concern for these people than the hundreds and thousands who have been able to seek justice by virtue of this law. The example of misuse of the dowry law is also cited frequently to support the repeal of the POCSO law. This is being called “legal terrorism” by many on Twitter and the action taken agasint him has been labeled action by “Anti-Hindu agencies”. So is it more important that alleged misuse be prevented rather than that people such as those mentioned in points 3 and 4 above get justice? Apparently it is according to many on Twitter.