Govt to soon bring in Bill to check sexual abuse of children

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New Delhi, Feb 21 (PTI) Government today proposed tobring in a comprehensive legislation soon to prevent sexualabuse of children that will have provisions for stringentpunishment for such offences.

In her address to joint sitting of both houses ofParliament, President Pratibha Patil said the government"proposes to introduce a bill regarding protection of childrenfrom sexual offences".

The new law will cover all new aspects of sexualoffences against children not covered elsewhere with provisionfor stringent punishment.

Once through, this law will take precedence over anyother existing law.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi was keen to see thebill through and had written to Women and Child Development(WCD) minister Krishna Tirath last year asking her to hastenthe pace of the legislation focusing on sexual abuse of thechildren, sources said.

Amid reports of differences between ministries, shehad asked the WCD ministry to coordinate with the Law Ministrywhich had already prepared a draft bill on similar lines.

The proposed legislation aims at protecting childrenagainst offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment,pornography and provide for establishment of special courtsfor trial of such offences.

The punishment for penetrative sexual assault has beenproposed as at least five years in jail and a minimum fine ofRs 50,000. Sexual assault also includes fondling the child inan inappropriate way which will invite a penalty of minimumthree years in jail.

There is a special provision preventing abuse ofchildren for pornographic purpose or possessing pornographicmaterial involving children. There will an obligation onmedia, studio and photographic facilities to report such casesand failure to do so will attract punishment.

To prevent misuse of this law, there is deterrentfactor on false complaints and false information leading tosix-month jail term.

There will be set procedure for media on reportingthat would bar giving details of the victim and accusedchildren''s family or personal details or any form of reportingthat can lead to their identification. Besides, it proposesspecial courts and more sensitive ways in dealing with crimeagainst children.

In her address, Patil also touched upon the issue ofprotection of women against sexual harassment at workplace.

"The Protection of Women Against Sexual Harassment atWorkplace Bill has also been introduced in Parliament," Patilsaid.

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