Dr. Satyavan Saurabh International days are opportunities to educate the public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems, to celebrate and strengthen humanity’s achievements. The existence of international days precedes the founding of the United Nations, but the United Nations has adopted them as a powerful advocacy tool. On August 19, 1982, in a special session on the question of Palestine, the United Nations General Assembly decided on June 4, of each year to celebrate “the International Day of the Suffering of Innocent Children”, the day aimed at acknowledging the pain suffered by children worldwide. Those who are victims of physical, mental, and emotional abuse. The day reaffirms the commitment of the United Nations to protect the rights of children. Its work is directed at child rights. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development provides us with a universal masterplan to secure a better future for children. The new agenda includes for the first time a specific goal to end all forms of violence against children, and mainstream several other violence-related goals to end abuse, neglect, and exploitation of children. In view of the increase in the cases of child abuse related crimes even after the introduction of POCSO Act in India in the year 2012, the provision of capital punishment in such crimes have been made in the year 2019 along with many other amendments in the POCSO Act. Under the recent amendments made in the Act, special attention has been paid to measures related to crime prevention along with stringent punishment provisions. This amendment was meant for making the children aware of personal safety, mental health and sexual offences, etc. with the help of government and other stakeholders to prevent cases of child abuse and awareness of the complainant and legal process related to these crimes. The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act – POCSO) is an abbreviation. The Act was enacted in 2012 to protect children from sexual offences, sexual harassment, and pornography, taking care of the interests and safety of children. The Act defines ‘child’ as a person under the age of 18 years and it seeks to ensure the best interests and welfare of the child by giving every stage more importance to ensure the physical, emotional, intellectual, and social development of the child. There is no gender discrimination in this Act. It is known that last year, the Madras High Court suggested that sexual, physical relations or other such acts should be excluded from the purview of the POSCO Act after 16 years of age. Under the Child Sexual Offences Protection Rules, 2020 awareness and capacity building, the Central and State Governments have been asked to prepare age-appropriate educational materials and curricula for children, making them aware of various aspects of personal safety. Under this amendment, the prevention and protection of sexual offences with children through educational material and to make complaints about such cases, through child helpline number 1098 is also to be conveyed. Personal safety includes the physical safety of children as well as safety measures related to their identity on online forums, emotional and mental health. The amendment also hardened the provisions related to child pornography. According to the new rules, if any person receives a file related to child pornography or knows of any other person who has such a file or is sending or sending it to others, in relation to that Special Juvenile Police Unit or Cybercrime Unit should be reported. According to the rule, in such cases the detailed information of the device (mobile, computer, etc.) in which the pornographic file is kept, the device from which it was obtained and the online platform, which is displayed on it, will be given. Under the rules, state governments have been directed to formulate a ‘child protection policy’ against child abuse based on the principle of “zero tolerance”. The Central and State Governments are regularly getting imputs of child safety and protection and their responsibility is to monitor all those working with children from time to time (teachers, bus drivers, assistants, etc., whether regular or contracted). In the amendment, it has also been suggested to organize training programmes related to capacity development for police personnel and forensic experts working on child abuse cases from time to time. Any such institution where children live or visit, such as school, infant home, sports academy, etc., will have to conduct police verification and background check of all their employees regularly. The Special Court may order interim compensation for relief or rehabilitation of the victim at any time in the case or at the discretion of the victim after the FIR has been lodged in the sexual harassment case. Compensation will be paid to the victim by the State Government within 30 days of the passing of such order. The Child Welfare Committee has been empowered that the committee may, in its discretion, order to provide special assistance to the victim for food, clothing, transportation, or other incidental needs. Such a contingency amount will be paid to the victim within one week of the receipt of the order. The ‘Protection of Child Sexual Offences Rules, 2020’ has come into force from March 9, 2020, across the country. Through the Child Sexual Offences Protection Act, ‘penetrative sexual assault’, sexual assault, and sexual harassment were defined for the first time. In this Act, offences are considered more serious in such situations if the offence is committed by an administrative officer, police, army, etc. Under the Act, with the prevention of sexual offences involving children, the judicial process in such cases shall have special arrangements to provide special support at the level. Along with this, arrangements have also been made to provide compensation to the victim for medical aid and rehabilitation. In the year 2019, through the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill, 2019, the provision of the death penalty in the case of ‘severe penetrative sexual harassment’ was made. In recent years, in many conflict zones, the number of violations against children has increased. More efforts are needed to protect 250 million children living in conflict-affected countries and regions. More should be done to protect children from being targeted by violent extremists and to promote international humanitarian and human rights legislation and to ensure accountability for children’s rights violations. (The author is Research Scholar in Political Science, University of Delhi).
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