The problem of child sexual abuse is increasing day by day in recent years. Millions of children are victims of trafficking and sexual exploitation every year. There are various sections under IPC for sexual offences in India. Our country also has large no. of national legislations and India also take part in an international convention like India is a signatory for protection of children from sexual abuse. After taking various steps by the government there is a little result in a reduction of child trafficking and abuse cases. For controlling and strengthen the legal provisions for the protection of children from sexual abuse, a special law Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 has been passed. Children from many countries like Vietnam, Albania and Romania are trafficked into the UK.
Child trafficking is a serious problem and its effects on a large scale to India. According to a report published by the U.S. Department of State, “India is a source, destination and transit country for men, women and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking. The major problem of India in term of child trafficking is internal because of highly divided society in classes on the basis of religion, minorities, lower-caste Dalits, the lower status of women and girls. All these division excluded them from the group.
United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) (Office for drug control and crime prevention established in 1997) released Global Report on Trafficking in 2012 which revealed that 27 per cent of all victims of human trafficking officially detected globally between the year 2007 and 2010 and all of them are children. Child trafficking either happens for the sex trade or for child labour. Parents of these children, due to their poor socio-economic conditions forcing them to ‘send’ or ‘sell’ their children for better livelihood options. Because of the lack of awareness in Indian society traffickers exploit when they deal with the uneducated poor living in slums and other backward regions in the country. Traffickers promise with their parents to give them daily wages and transport them to big cities where they are treated as property. Sometimes family because of the dire need of money sells their children to these traffickers who easily purchase these children in the name of labour or servants.
What is Child Trafficking?
Trafficking means when children and young people by trick, force or by persuasion leave their homes and are moved or transported and then exploited, forced for work. Children are trafficked for sexual exploitation, domestic slavery-like cleaning, cooking and childcare, forced labour in factories or agriculture, committing crimes like begging, theft. Trafficked children experience various types of abuse and neglect. Traffickers use physical, sexual and emotional abuse as a tool to control those children. These children and young people are also physically and emotionally neglected and many times sexually exploited.
Types of Child Trafficking
Traffickers use emotional way with children, families and communities to gain their trust. Sometimes they also threaten families with violence or threats. Many traffickers promise children and families that they’ll make their future better. Trafficking also comes under economic crime.
Traffickers do their work mostly in three ways
a) work alone or in small groups, recruiting a small number of children from areas they know and live in
b) be medium-sized groups who recruit, move and exploit children and young people on a small scale
c) be large criminal networks that operate internationally with high-level corruption, money laundering and a large number of victims.
Constitution and Child Rights
The rights of children are of much importance because they are the mirror of the future. Constitution of India provides rights to Children for their protection. Constitution of India contains various provisions for the development and protection of children. All right cover in Part III and Part IV of the Constitution which talks about ‘Fundamental Rights’ and ‘Directive Principles of State Policy’. Important among them are Art. 15 (3), Art. 24, Art. 39 (f), Art 45, Article 243 G read with Schedule 11, Article 34 which state that “state machinery to prevent the inducement or coercion of a child to engage in any unlawful sexual activity”. Children also have the right to equal opportunity, dignity and care, protection and rehabilitation by society.
Existing Legislation and Judiciary in India for Protection of Child Sexual Abuse
There was no complete code on sexual offences against children. The Indian Penal Code does not define the definition of child abuse as a specific offence. There is the certain provision in IPC that punished offenders of child abuse like section 377, section 375 offence of rape, section 374 punishes the offence of assault or use of criminal force to outrage the modesty of a woman but modesty is not defined anywhere it is defined only in judicial interpretation so it becomes more confusing because the ‘victim’ is a child and whether as a child she can possess modesty is a point of argument in court. None of the sections defined in legal terms which explain what constitutes Child Sexual Abuse (CSA).
Judiciary also played an important role in securing the rights of children by laying down such guidelines. All provisions of the Constitution and laws enacted by the legislature get their real meaning and they passed through the process of judicial interpretation. Now it has been well established that all judicial proceedings relating to victims of sexual abuse must be conducted in an ‘in-camera’ trial.
Analysis of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012
POCSO Act passed on 22nd May 2012. 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”. Offences in this act have been clearly defined for the first time in law. The Act provides for stringent punishments, and these punishments are categorized as per the gravity of the offence. The punishments range from simple to rigorous imprisonment differ from offence to offence. There is also provision for fine, which is to be decided by the Court. Chapter III makes the “use of children for pornographic purpose or possessing pornographic material involving children” a crime and give the penalty of three years’ with imprisonment for it.
This Act has penalties even for abetment of an offence. Act also provides for relief and rehabilitation of the child, when the complaint is made to the Special Juvenile Police Unit (SJPU) or local police, and they will have to make immediate arrangements to give the child, care and protection such as admitting the child into shelter home or to the nearest hospital within twenty-four hours of the report. Act also provides for the establishment of Special Courts for the trial of offences of children under the Act. We know that child sexual abuse is underreported because of lack of awareness and social stigma so for this there is a section in the act Section 21 which states that individuals or institutions that fail to report an offence to the police can be punished with either six months or one-year imprisonment with fine.
Children are the most vulnerable segment of our society and sexual abuse with them is very sad because it affects the growth of India. Child sexual abuse is a dark reality which we have to accept so after that we will tackle this issue. It routinely inflicts our daily lives but in the majority of cases, it is unnoticed and unreported because of the innocence of the victim and social stigma attached to the act. Only to enact the legislation will not be enough if there is no strict enforcement of the law.
In India, issues of such nature do not invite open discussion and are considered as a social taboo. So, there is a strict need that parents should be sensitized on how to deal with issues like this. Parents, teachers and others in the community have a vital role to protect children from sexual exploitation and abuse. As we know that children are the country’s greatest human resource and the progress of the country lies in the wellbeing of its children and for that, it is necessary that they are healthy, educated, safe, and happy and have access to life opportunities. It is our duty that Child Sexual Abuse should be removed from our society as soon as possible. This will help India in growth and development as children are the leaders of tomorrow.
“The views of the authors are personal“
Frequently Asked Questions
How we can solve the problem of Child Trafficking?
There are some ways in which we solve this problem: –
b) Recognize the signs
c) Report any suspicion
d) Raise awareness
e) Take action
What are the top three states in India for child trafficking?
National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) (Human Trafficking, Crime in India 2016 ) published a report which shows that West Bengal, Rajasthan and Gujarat are the top three states where highest no. of crimes of trafficking occurred.