- According to a survey conducted by Childline India Foundation, there are 1,575 sexually abused children in shelter homes across the country.
- According to an audit report conducted by Tata Institute of Social Sciences, minor girls were subjected to extreme physical violence and sexual abuse involving officials in a government-funded shelter home in Muzaffarpur in Bihar.
- Taking cognizance of the matter, the apex court had asked the Union government to submit a report on child care institutions in the country.
- The Union government in its affidavit to Supreme Court said there are 1575 sexually abused children in shelter homes across the country.
- The data was based on a survey of 9,589 child care institutions conducted by Childline India Foundation.
- Further, a national social audit of child care homes is also being conducted by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights.
Key observations about child care institutions
- There are 3,68,267 children in need of care and protection in the country.
- Out of this, 1,98,449 were boys, 1,69,726 were girls and 92 were transgenders.
- There are 9,589 child care institutions in India.
- The categories of children living in these child care institutions included orphans, abandoned, sexually abused, victims of child pornography, minors who were trafficked for domestic work or labour, those affected and infected by HIV and AIDS as well as those affected by natural disasters.
- Besides destitute children, about 9,382 children in such homes are in conflict with Juvenile Justice Act.
- About 3,071 homes (32 per cent) were registered under the Juvenile Justice Act and 1,487 homes (15 per cent) had applied for registration under the Act.
- Further there are around 33 per cent unregistered child care institutions in the country.
Victims of Sex Abuse
- About 1,575 children were victims of sexual abuse.
- About 189 were victims of pornography.
Laws against Child Sex Abuse in India
Sexual offences in general were covered by three sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC):
- Section 376: sexual intercourse without consent. The only crimes registered were Section 354: Outraging modesty of a woman rape
- Section 377: Unnatural acts defined as “carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal” (anal sex, homosexuality or bestiality)
- It should be noted that the above-mentioned provisions are not specific to children.
- Other forms of non-penetrative sexual assaults, harassment and exploitation for pornography were not explicitly recognised as crimes.
Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO):
- POCSO Act classifies child abuse into sexual harassment, sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault.
- Punishment for sexual harassment is imprisonment of up to three years, five years’ imprisonment for sexual assault and 10 years to life imprisonment for aggravated sexual assault.
- POCSO covered wide ranging behaviours as sexual harassment including sexting, cyber bullying, stalking etc.
- POCSO 2012 has made a substantial contribution in educating the public, sensitizing the criminal justice system, and making the reporting of Child sex abuse mandatory.
- Following the enactment of POCSO, the number of offences registered under rape itself went up by 44 %.