This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Amoli Trust. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Know About The Protection Of Children From Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act, 2019

More from Amoli Trust

TW: Child Sexual Abuse

A smiling boy
Credits: Amoli Trust – Every Child is Precious | New Delhi

The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act, 2019 is a special law that was first brought into effect in 2012 to deal with child sexual abuse cases. It is highly comprehensive in nature and aims to protect children from the offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography.

According to the Act, a ‘child’ is anyone below the age of 18 years. Under POCSO, the following activities, when committed against a child, amount to a criminal offence:

Penetrative Sexual Assault:

This includes cases where a person-

  1. Penetrates his penis into the vagina, mouth, urethra or anus of a child, or
  2. Makes a child do the same, or
  3. Inserts any other object into the child’s body, or
  4. Applies his mouth to a child’s body parts.

Aggravated Penetrative Sexual Assault:

This includes-

  1. Cases when a police officer, a member of the armed forces, or a public servant commits penetrative sexual assault on a child.
  2. Cases where the offender is a relative of the child, or if the assault injures the sexual organs of the child or the child becomes pregnant, among others.
  3. Assault resulting in death of child.
  4. Assault committed during a natural calamity, or in any similar situations of violence.

Sexual Assault:

Sexual assault includes cases-

  1. Where a person touches the vagina, penis, anus or breast of a child with sexual intent without penetration.
  2. Where the assault is committed during a natural calamity.
  3. Where the person administers or helps in administering any hormone or any chemical substance to a child for the purpose of attaining early sexual maturity.

Aggravated Sexual Assault:

It includes cases where sexual assault (as specified above) is aggravated because it has been committed by a person in a position of trust or authority vis-à-vis the child, like a family member, police officer, teacher, doctor, member of the armed forces, public servant, hospital staff, etc., or when the abused child is mentally ill.

Two girls in a school corridor
Repeatedly/constantly following or watching or contacting the child is a form of sexual harrassment

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment on a child is committed when a person with sexual intent:

  1. Says a word, or makes any sound or gesture, or exhibits any object or part of the body, with the intention that the child will notice this act.
  2. Makes the child exhibit his body such that other(s) can see it.
  3. Repeatedly/constantly follows or watches or contacts the child.
  4. Shows any object to a child for pornographic purposes.

Using Child For Pornographic purposes:

The Act defines child pornography as any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a child including photograph, video, digital or computer generated image indistinguishable from an actual child.

A person is guilty of using a child for pornographic purposes if

  1. He uses a child in any form of media for the purpose of sexual gratification.
  2. He uses children for pornographic purposes resulting in sexual assault.

Storage Of Pornographic Material:

The Act penalises:

  1. Storage of pornographic material for commercial purposes.
  2. Failing to destroy, or delete, or report pornographic material involving a child.
  3. Transmitting, displaying, distributing such material except for the purpose of reporting it.

The POCSO Act prescribes stringent punishment graded as per the gravity of the offence, with a maximum term of rigorous imprisonment for life, and fine. The punishment for each of the aforementioned offences is as follows:

Penetrative sexual assault Imprisonment between 10 years to life, and a fine.

If committed on child below 16 years of age, then, imprisonment between 20 years to life, and a fine.

Aggravated penetrative sexual assault Imprisonment between 20 years to life, and a fine.
Sexual assault Imprisonment for 3 to 5 years, and a fine.
Aggravated sexual assault Imprisonment for 5 to 7 years, and a fine.
Sexual harassment Imprisonment up to 3 years, and a fine.
Using child for pornographic purposes Imprisonment up to 5 years, and a fine.
Storage of child pornographic material Imprisonment up to 3 years, with or without fine.

POCSO also makes the reporting of child sexual offences mandatory. This means that the person who has knowledge that a child has been sexually abused, also has the legal duty to report the offence. In case of a failure to report, that person may face imprisonment for 6 months and/or a fine.

A group of children
The POCSO Act is a landmark law which, if enacted properly, has the potential to deter perpetrators and bring down the occurrence of child sexual offences, while also ensuring that the survivors receive proper care and justice.

This emphasis on reporting is born out of the understanding that if suspected victims of CSA are identified in time, then they can be prevented from falling prey to further harm. In contrast, if such cases are not detected and reported, then the child may carry the scars of the abuse throughout their lives, and in some cases, even end up repeating the pattern of abuse with someone else.

The Act attempts to avoid re-victimization and ensure that the child’s best interests are safeguarded throughout the judicial process. This is achieved through various provisions like, incorporating child-friendly mechanisms for reporting, recording of evidence, and investigation; speedy trial of offences, trial in-camera and without revealing the identity of the child through designated Special Courts.

Moreover, the Preamble to the POCSO Act mentions certain principles which have to be adhered to by all involved parties, including the courts, police, Child Welfare Committee (CWC), Special Courts, NGOs, and all government bodies. Some of them are:

  • Ensuring the best interests of the child
  • Respecting the child’s right to life and survival
  • Treating the child with dignity and compassion, and without any discrimination
  • Protecting the child’s right to be heard and informed
  • Honouring the child’s right to safety, privacy, and compensation

Though the POCSO Act is considered an excellent piece of legislation, one which recognizes almost every known form of sexual abuse against children as punishable offence, it has come under the scanner for various reasons. Some points of criticism are:

  • Gender-bias: All the provisions of the Act use the pronoun ‘he’ while referring to the accused, which means that only males can be booked for child sexual offences under POCSO. This is seen as unreasonable because available data states that even females are perpetrators, especially in cases where a male child is abused.
  • Death Penalty: The Act makes it possible for the court to award death penalty in case a minor is raped, even though this happens in the rarest of rare cases. While this is intended to have a deterrent effect, opponents of death penalty have argued that this punishment may backfire. This is because many a times, the perpetrator of abuse is a family member itself, and this penalty may discourage the reporting of the crime. Some experts have also opined how the death penalty may increase the incidence of murder with child sexual abuse since the perpetrator would find it to be an easy way to silence the abused child.
  • Treatment Cost: POCSO makes it a legal obligation of the hospital/clinic/medical centre to provide free treatment to the CSA survivor. If there are lack of proper medical facilities or a costly procedure is required to be conducted, then there is a possibility that the hospital/ clinic/medical centre may provide substandard care or deprive the survivor of it altogether. Therefore, it has been argued that the State governments should take responsibility of reimbursing the cost of treatment.

The POCSO Act is a landmark law which, if enacted properly, has the potential to deter perpetrators and bring down the occurrence of child sexual offences, while also ensuring that the survivors receive proper care and justice. It is the duty of all stakeholders, including government bodies, police, medical professionals, courts, and welfare committees to adopt a joint multi-disciplinary approach in order to protect childhood and innocence.

If you are a survivor, parent or guardian who wants to seek help for child sexual abuse, or know someone who might, you can dial 1098 for CHILDLINE (a 24-hour national helpline) or email them at You can also call NGO Arpan on their helpline 091-98190-86444, for counselling support.

You must be to comment.

More from Amoli Trust

Similar Posts

By Anuja Amin

By Ishika Kundu

By SAANS leaders

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below