Molestation has become a quotidian thing in this modern world. It is the forcing of undesired sexual behavior by one person upon another. The offender is named as the molester. Nowadays, not only adults but also children become victims of molestation. Apart from sexual intercourse, child molestation also includes indecent exposure, child prostitution, showing pornography to a child, sexual exploitation, incest, statutory rape, inappropriate disclosure, sexually inappropriate or offensive behavior and sexual abuse. Few Acts have been enacted to protect children from molestation. The Parliament of India passed the ‘Protection of Children against Sexual Offences Bill’ in 2012. Before 2012, the only specific Act for child protection was Goa Children’s Act, 2003. Indian Penal Code contains few sections which are also applicable in case of sexual abuse of a child.
- I.P.C. (1860) 375- Rape
- I.P.C. (1860) 354- Outraging the modesty of a woman
- I.P.C. (1860) 377- Unnatural offences
- I.P.C. (1860) 511- Attempt
However, the IPC could not effectively cut down the percentage of child abuse due to few loopholes:
- IPC 375 doesn’t protect male victims or anyone from sexual acts of penetration other than “traditional” peno-vaginal intercourse.
- IPC 354 lacks a statutory definition of “modesty”. It carries a weak penalty and is a compoundable offence. Further, it does not protect the “modesty” of a male child.
- In IPC 377, the term “unnatural offences” is not defined. It only applies to victims penetrated by their attacker’s sex act, and is not designed to criminalize sexual abuse of children. (childlineindia)
Asha Bajpai observes, “The ordinary criminal laws are totally inadequate to protect the children, who are victims of sexual abuse. These sections do not include the common forms of child sexual abuse. The restrictive interpretation of “penetration” in the Explanation to Section 375 is an obstacle to cases of CSA. Explanation to Section 375 does not treat forced sexual intercourse by a husband against the wife (above 15 years) as an offence. Section 376(A) also has the same reasoning. The Indian Penal Code needs to be reviewed”. There is an urgent need for strict laws and appropriate provisions to protect children, so that the percentage of child molestation drops down with speed.
About the Author: The article has been contributed by our intern, Amrita Dasgupta.