The Indian government has tightened the law punishing sexual abuse of minors on Friday (December 28th) by adding the provision of the death penalty in some cases. These new amendments also punish more heavily those in possession of child pornography. But for many NGOs, increasing sentences remains ineffective in combating sexual violence.
For the Council of Ministers, these are amendments, ” which address the strict measures necessary to stem the increase of sexual abuse of minors in the country .” One of the amendments to the POCSO law, passed in 2012 to protect children from sexual abuse of minors in India, includes a sentence ranging from a minimum of 20 years in prison to death by hanging for penetrating sexual acts.
These amendments also seek, according to the government, to make the POCSO Act more neutral, with some sections applying only to female victims of sexual assault. The government has also added a clause to include child victims of sexual abuse during inter communal violence or natural disasters. For the latter, New Delhi took the example of Nepal’s response to the 2015 earthquake, when many abuses were reported.
However, organizations and associations working to rehabilitate victims of sexual abuse remain unconvinced of the benefits of these new measures. They fear that these harsher penalties may discourage victims, who often know their abusers, from reporting these abuses to the police.