Cabinet Strengthens POCSO Act; Death penalty for Sex Assault on Children Announced

The Cabinet approved death penalty for aggravated sexual assault against children below the age of 18 years as part of amendments in the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act), Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad announced on Friday.

Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, “The cabinet has approved amendments to the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, further strengthening the law to safeguard minors in the country. The provision of death penalty has also been included for those found guilty of aggravated assault on a child.”

He further added, "This is a very wholesome initiative by the Union government. The government has brought about a far-reaching amendment in the POCSO Act. Our aim is to prevent children from falling victim to sexual aggression."

He also claimed that the architecture of POCSO has not only been strengthened but also expanded through this move. "There are some who cause premature development in children through the administration of hormones to enhance their appeal in the sex trade and pornography industry. Doing this has now been made a major offence through Section 9 of the Act," and that drugs should not be abused to "kill the childhood of a child" for extraneous purposes. 

Mr. Prasad listed out the ways in which the government plans to curtail access to child pornography. He mentioned that, "Another objective of this provision is to curb the proliferation of child pornography. Anybody found circulating such material for commercial or other purposes will also face stringent punishment."

The press release by the government said, “Among other sections, 4, 5 and 6 will be amended to “provide option of stringent punishment, including death penalty, for committing aggravated penetrative sexual assault crime on a child to protect the children from sexual abuse.”

Besides this, the amendments have also proposed to protect children from assault “in times of natural calamities and disasters and in cases where children are administered, in any way, any hormone or any chemical substance, to attain early sexual maturity for the purpose of penetrative sexual assault.”

The government has decided to impose a fine for not deleting, destroying child pornographic material or reporting child pornography, to curb child pornography.

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