Child abuse is when a child below the age of 18 years is maltreated by anyone, which causes physical, emotional, sexual or psychological harm or injury to the child. Under Indian law, there are many provisions made for the prevention of child abuse which includes:
Indian Penal Code, 1860
Section 315 and 316 of IPC deal with the death of an unborn child or an infant. The accused that does any act to prevent an unborn child to be born alive in this case shall be punished with imprisonment up to ten years or fine or both.
Section 317 of the Indian Penal Code deals with the abandonment of a child below the age of twelve years. If the father or mother abandons their child intentionally, then they shall be punished with imprisonment up to seven years or fine or both.
Section 366A of IPC deals with inducing any minor girl to have sexual intercourse with another person. This crime shall be punished with imprisonment up to ten years and a fine.
Section 372 and 373 of the Indian Penal Code punishes the accused of selling or buying minor girls for prostitution and illicit intercourse for any unlawful and immoral purpose. The accused shall be punished with imprisonment, which may extend up to ten years and a fine.
Also, after the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013, the punishment for rape of a minor girl has been aggravated (made more serious) under section 376(2)(i) of IPC. The punishment for rape of females below 16 years of age shall be minimum rigorous imprisonment of ten years which can extend up to life imprisonment.
Protection of Children From Sexual Offences Act, 2012
This Act was formed to prevent sexual harassment, sexual assault, pornography and immoral acts against children. This Act is not gender-specific and also penalises abetment of child abuse.
National Commission for Protection of Child Rights
National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), which is incorporated under the Ministry of Woman and Child Development by the central government, works to regulate all laws and programmes with a child-centric approach. The commission can also take suo moto cognisance for violation of child rights.
Child Welfare Committee (CWC)
This committee is formed under the Woman and Child Development Department. The committee looks after the child in need of care and protection. This committee is to be informed about any child abuse within 24 hours by the police officer. CWC will then appoint a person who will support the child and be responsible for the psycho-social well-being of the child. The CWC person will keep the child’s family updated about the case. Also, any reporting of child abuse can be done by dialling the toll-free number 1098.
Ankita Trivedi has written this post. She is a practising advocate in New Delhi, having expertise in various legal fields.