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Child Sexual Abuse and the Law in India: A commentary

Belur, JS; (2015) Child Sexual Abuse and the Law in India: A commentary. Crime Science 10.1186/s40163-015-0037-2. Green open access

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Abstract

Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) has only recently been publicly acknowledged as a problem in India. A welcome development has been the enactment of a special law—Protection of Children against Sexual Offences (POCSO) 2012—criminalising a range of acts including child rape, harassment, and exploitation for pornography. The law mandates setting up of Special Courts to facilitate speedy trials in CSA cases. The paper highlights the intended benefits and the unintended consequences that might arise from the application of the law in the Indian context. Undoubtedly, the passing of POCSO has been a major step forward in securing children’s rights and furthering the cause of protecting children against sexual abuse in conjunction with a related legislation to clamp down on child marriages called the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006. The letter and spirit of the law, which defines a child as anyone under 18 years of age, is to protect children from sexual abuse. However, criminalising all sexual behaviour under 18 years of age can be problematic. This paper identifies three main issues arising from POCSO: age of consent, age determination, and mandatory reporting; issues that highlight the fact that well-meaning laws can nevertheless have unintended negative consequences.

Type: Article
Title: Child Sexual Abuse and the Law in India: A commentary
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1186/s40163-015-0037-2
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s40163-015-0037-2
Additional information: © 2015 Belur and Singh. Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Keywords: India, child sex abuse, POCSO, consensual underage sex, child marriage
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Security and Crime Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1471698
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