by Sadaf Modak | Mumbai |
May 2, 2018
AS THE Union Cabinet approved an Ordinance to allow courts to award death penalty to those convicted of raping children up to 12 years, stakeholders said the focus should have been on strengthening the existing Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
The Act was introduced in 2012 to address sexual assault against children to ensure that provisions are made specifically to address the needs of child victims, including introduction of child-friendly courtrooms, changes in the way victims’ statements are recorded by the police, courts, as well as rehabilitation of victims. Stakeholders say many of the special provisions formulated for children remain unimplemented with the Act becoming part of the mainstream criminal justice system.
“Rights of the victims in the criminal justice system are often neglected. Even in the POCSO Act, the focus was to have child-friendly courts where child victims could come to depose but the victims continue to depose before the usual courts, part of the adult criminal justice system. While there are provisions for stringent punishment, aspects of victim rehabiliation, like compensation, psychological and other assistance to victims, is not usually provided for,” said Pravin Khandpasole, director of Disha, an organisation based in Amravati district that works on creating a legal, social and policy framework for victims.
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