The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act was enacted in 2012 to protect children from offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and pornography.

Here’s everything you should know about the POCSO Act.

The Act differs from the Indian Penal Code by recognising that both boys and girls can be victims of sexual assault, in contrast to just girls as stated by the IPC.

The Act classifies a variety of actions as sexual harassment, such as: – Non-penetrative sexual assault – Aggravated penetrative sexual assault – Stalking a child – Making them expose themselves – Building a relationship with a child either in person or online so as to facilitate sexual contact with the child

This Act places the burden of proof on the accused, following “guilty until proven innocent”.

While the Act includes punishment for offending persons, it also encompasses the process of taking the statement of the child, the medical examination, and special child-friendly courts.

According to the Act, a child is defined as any person below the age of 18 years. The Act makes it obligatory for any person who suspects or has knowledge of a sexual offence against a child to report it to the police or be punished.

The Act allows a victim to report the offence at any time, even after years if necessary.

Section 23 of the POCSO Act prohibits disclosure of the victim’s identity in any form of media, except in special courts.

Under the POCSO Act, the child’s statement can be recorded at their residence by a woman police official or an official in civilian clothes.

A medical examination of the child is done in the presence of a parent (by a woman doctor in the case of a girl child).

Child-friendly courts provide an atmosphere that makes the child feel comfortable by allowing a guardian or parent to be present at all times.

The Act includes special guidelines for cases involving children with disabilities.