Alarmed at the recent surge in sexual assault on male children across India, the Women and Child Development (WCD) Ministry is mulling over moving a proposal before the Cabinet in the coming days which aims at increasing the punishment for such sexual offenders. The Ministry of Law has already given a green signal to the proposal that is put to amend the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012.
According to an official from the WCD Ministry, amendments to the POCSO Act for enhanced punishment for sexual assaults of young boys have been approved by the law ministry. “The proposal will be sent to the Cabinet in two-three days,” added the official without divulging any further information. However, sources have revealed that the concerned ministry is looking to bring in a law that makes raping a child below 12 years of age punishable with the death sentence.
The proposal by WCD ministry is seen as an attempt to bring gender-neutrality to the cases of sexual offences against children below 18 years.
Earlier in the week, the Union Cabinet introduced a bill that will provide the sternest punishment, including capital punishment, to offenders convicted of raping a girl child below 12 years of age.
Demanding the same level of punishment for sexual offences against a male child, activist Insia Dariwala began a petition on Change.org which said, “male child sexual abuse is an ignored reality in India”.
Reportedly, Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi supported the petition and had responded back to petitioners. Gandhi has already said in the past that “Child sexual abuse is gender neutral. Boys who are sexually abused as children spend a lifetime of silence because of the stigma and shame attached to male survivors speaking out. It is a serious problem and needs to be addressed.”