Target:
Indian Parliament & Law Commission of India
Region:
India

Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) is an issue that has been largely ignored, sidelined and swept under the carpet. While millions of children across the world continue to suffer at the hands of their fathers, mothers, siblings and "trustworthy" family members and friends, most societies prefer to turn a deaf ear and a blind eye on these atrocities.

Elaan is a Kolkata-based NGO, with branches in Delhi and Chennai, which is oriented towards spreading awareness on the issues of Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) and Incest; Issues that have until now received scant public attention and concern.

This campaign as its name suggests, aims at drawing the attention of society at large about the gross lack of penal law pertaining to CSA in India. As of now, CSA has been brought under the parasol provisions of section 375 (rape) and section 377 (unnatural offences) of the Indian penal code. This in itself is exceedingly insufficient to contend with a problem of this magnitude. Both of the mentioned sections necessarily have as a pre-requisite, “penetration” for conviction of the perpetrator.

It must be mentioned, that in most cases of CSA, this requisite is not fulfilled and therefore the most heinous perpetrator is acquitted scot-free. However, it would be an anachronism to state that the mental and physical well being of a child is not permanently attenuated. Therefore it is our unequivocal demand that CSA be incorporated as a penal offence within the criminal legislations of India.


We, the undersigned, at Elaan, endeavour to bring to the attention of the legislature, the fact that the prevailing legal system neither acts as a deterrent nor as a retributive force to perpetrators of the crime of Child Sexual Abuse. The under-mentioned are a few proposals that would go a long way in terms of achieving a law against the heinous offence.

1) The definition of child sexual abuse, and all of its forms: Child Sexual Abuse is NOT rape, alone. Abuse can be physical, psychological, or even emotional.

2) The punishment: Varying forms of punishment need to be provided for, depending on the nature of the abuse perpetrated. No form of abuse must be allowed to remain unpunished.

3) Registration as a Sex-Offender: As is in The United States Of America, the offenders need to enroll/register as registered sexual offenders, indicating the need for a periodic review of the individual's track record if he is out of prison. It is imperative that the individual be labeled with this tag, to allow society to understand who to be wary of.

4) Sensitizing of Police personnel: The implementing and enforcement entities need to be sensitized to the victims, and must mandatorily register a complaint, and see it through to the end.

5) Monetary Liabilities: The abuser has to pay a financial amount, including the amount incurred in the form of psychological treatment of the victim and other medical expenses, particularly if the victim is poor and from an uneducated background.

6) Gender Neutral Law: Sexual Abuse is not a crime exclusively against a female child woman. Boys are as susceptible to it as girls are, given that offences of sodomy and homosexual abuse is on the rise.

7) Disabled Victims: Sexual Abuse of a disabled minor should be considered even more heinous a crime, as a disabled person is far more vulnerable to such attack, and is completely defenseless, not to mention lacking in knowledge of what is happening to them, even.

8) Training of Personnel: Training of police or women's cell in police, and the forensic team to collect evidence in a CSA case to enhance conviction is mandatory. The minimum evidence required should be spelt out and has to be in the victim's favour.

9) Legal Aid: Victims of rape must be given sufficient legal aid, with enough privacy accorded to them, so as to avoid the ascription of unwarranted stigmatization.

10) In-Cameral Proceedings: Victims of CSA ought to be shielded from unnecessary stigmatization and should be accorded the opportunity to maintain their legal proceedings in court as in-cameral, at their option and choice.

11) Rehabilitation and Counseling: CSA victims need to be subject to rehabilitation and therapy, to be able to come out of their trauma.

12) Gradation of Offenders: It is necessary to look at the background of offenders, before punishing them outright. If they have been subject to abuse, themselves, it is only fitting that they be allowed rehabilitative punishment, as opposed to retributive punishment.

13) Mandatory Sex-Ed in schools: Schools must be equipped with sensitized personnel to teach their students the ability to differentiate between a good touch, and a bad touch. Children must be given a helpline they can access in need of any help.

Give our children a safer world, a safer tomorrow.

Make the changes.

Sincerely,
Elaan.

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