Harsher punishment for children exploitation


The World Health Organization (WHO) defines Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) as "the involvement of a child in sexual activity that he or she does not fully comprehend, is unable to give informed consent to, or for which the child is not developmentally prepared and cannot give consent, or that violates the laws or social taboos of society…". CSA includes an array of sexual activities like fondling, inviting a child to touch or be touched sexually, intercourse, exhibitionism, involving a child in prostitution or pornography, or online child luring by cyber-predators. CSA is a serious problem of considerable magnitude throughout the world. A recent systematic review of 55 studies from 24 countries found much heterogeneity in studies in terms of definition and measurement of CSA and concluded that rates of CSA ranged from 8 to 31% for females and from 3 to 17% for males. Children, under the age of 18, contribute to 37% of India's population with large proportions experiencing great deprivations such as lack of access to basic education, nutrition or health care. In addition, they are susceptible to different forms of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) including various forms of abuse, neglect, and maltreatment with child protection remaining largely unaddressed.
Now, cruelty towards children and their exploitation in any form will invite harsher punishment from November 1, 2019 onwards as the Central Law, which will replace Jammu and Kashmir Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, has more stringent provisions to provide justice to the children in need of care and protection. Most importantly, the Central Law prescribes seven years Rigorous Imprisonment for use of juveniles by militant groups and other outfits for any purpose, the practice which has assumed alarming proportion particularly in the Kashmir valley where children are being exploited in carrying out nefarious activities. As per the Jammu and Kashmir State Reorganization Act, 2019, which was passed by the Parliament early last month, the J&K Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2013 will get repealed on November 1, 2019 and the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act passed by the Parliament in 2015 will become applicable to the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and Union Territory of Ladakh. The Central Act prescribes imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years or with fine of one lakh rupees or with both. The Central Act has gone beyond this by mentioning that if such offence is committed by any person employed by or managing an organisation, which is entrusted with the care and protection of the child, he shall be punished with Rigorous Imprisonment which may extend to five years and fine which may extend to five lakh rupees. The Central Act further mentions that whoever having the actual charge of child abets the commission of an offence of employing the child for begging shall be punishable with the same imprisonment. This provision will be of immense help especially in Kashmir valley where use of juveniles for carrying out anti-national activities particularly in stone-pelting on the armed forces has assumed alarming proportion during the past some years.

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