With the string of child rapes being reported from across the country,the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act,2012 will face its first test five months after it came into force on November 14,2012.
The fact that the law has not acted as a deterrent against child abuse can attributed to the failure of many states to train its staff and give ample publicity to the new law. Even the Delhi Police included this Act to the FIR on child rape case two days after it was first filed on April 15.
The law provides for jail ranging from seven years to life-term for sexual assault on minors. Delhi is among the few states to have special courts to deal with child sexual assault cases. This is because the designated courts under the Commission for Protection of Child Rights Act can double up as POCSO courts too. The other states are Kerala,Goa and Maharashtra,said sources in the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
Information about states compliance to POCSO is just trickling in. But we had started writing to states as early as July 2012 to put the structure in place. Some states which have started the training modules for government staff are Delhi,Orissa,Haryana and Rajasthan. We are still writing to states urging them to speed up the process. We are hoping that all the cases will be tried under POCSO but we do not have information on that yet, said a senior official in the ministry.
The law is also stringent on officials who try to suppress incidents of child sexual assault. Section 20 of the Act states that any person who fails to report a sexual offence against a child knowing fully well that it has been committed,can face imprisonment of up to six months and also a fine.