New Delhi: Government on Monday proposed to
bring in a comprehensive legislation soon to prevent sexual
abuse of children that will have provisions for stringent
punishment for such offences.
In her address to joint sitting of both houses of
Parliament, President Pratibha Patil said the government
"proposes to introduce a bill regarding protection of children
from sexual offences".
The new law will cover all new aspects of sexual
offences against children not covered elsewhere with provision
for stringent punishment.
Once through, this law will take precedence over any
other existing law.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi was keen to see the
bill through and had written to Women and Child Development
(WCD) minister Krishna Tirath last year asking her to hasten
the pace of the legislation focusing on sexual abuse of the
children, sources said.
Amid reports of differences between ministries, she
had asked the WCD ministry to coordinate with the Law Ministry
which had already prepared a draft bill on similar lines.
The proposed legislation aims at protecting children
against offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment,
pornography and provide for establishment of special courts
for trial of such offences.
The punishment for penetrative sexual assault has been
proposed as at least five years in jail and a minimum fine of
Rs 50,000. Sexual assault also includes fondling the child in
an inappropriate way which will invite a penalty of minimum
three years in jail.
There is a special provision preventing abuse of
children for pornographic purpose or possessing pornographic
material involving children. There will an obligation on
media, studio and photographic facilities to report such cases
and failure to do so will attract punishment.
To prevent misuse of this law, there is deterrent
factor on false complaints and false information leading to
six-month jail term.
There will be set procedure for media on reporting
that would bar giving details of the victim and accused
children`s family or personal details or any form of reporting
that can lead to their identification. Besides, it proposes
special courts and more sensitive ways in dealing with crime
In her address, Patil also touched upon the issue of
protection of women against sexual harassment at workplace.
"The Protection of Women Against Sexual Harassment at
Workplace Bill has also been introduced in Parliament," Patil