The Ministry of Women and Child Development on Tuesday said that a victim of child sexual abuse can file a complaint at any time irrespective of his/her present age. The decision came after the Ministry consulted Ministry of Law in view of the overriding provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act over other criminal laws and provisions of mandatory reporting of such offences. The Ministry of Law after examining the provisions of POCSO Act vis-à-vis provisions of CrPC has advised that there appears no period of limitation mentioned in Section 19 in regard to reporting of the offences under the POCSO Act, 2012.
After receiving the opinion of Ministry of Law, Minister of WCD Maneka Gandhi said, “Now any victim, at any age, can complain the sexual abuse faced by him/her as a child”.
Maneka Gandhi also urged the victims to report the cases through POCSO e-Box.
Several reports suggest the children often are unable to report the cases of sexual abuse as in most cases the perpetrator is either a family member, a relative or closely known person. Studies have also shown that the child continues to carry the trauma of sexual abuse till very late in life. In order to overcome this trauma many grown up people have started coming out to report the abuse faced by them as children.
The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 defines a child as any person below the age of 18 years and provides protection to all children under the age of 18 years from the offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography.
The decision comes close on the heels of the #MeToo campaign which is gaining momentum in the country. Through the campaign, several victims of sexual abuse are now coming out and naming the sexual predators. Several bigwigs have been named in the #MeToo campaign, including MoS External Affairs MJ Akbar, actor Alok Nath, filmmakers Sajid Khan and Vikas Bahl to name a few.
Recently, the Ministry of Women & Child Development said that it will be setting up a committee of senior judicial and legal persons as members to examine all issues emanating from the MeToo India movement. The committee will look into the legal and institutional framework which is in place for handling complaints of sexual harassment at work