Our today's edition of Current Affairs is here. Read to know more about Protection Of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act). Also, find the topic's relevance to the UPSC CSE syllabus below:
For Prelims: Indian Polity and Governance
The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, Protection of Children From Sexual Offences Act (POCOSO), Section 19 of POCSO Act, Protecting Child marriage.
For Mains: GS Paper II (Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector)
About POCSO Act of 2012, The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006, Debate on Muslim age of marriage, Other Initiative for Protecting Child marriage.
Recently several men in Assam were arrested under the provisions of the stringent POCSO Act and the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act.
- The arrests come against the backdrop of the growing debate on the minimum age of marriage of Muslim women.
What do laws like the POCSO Act and Prohibition of Child Marriage Act say about child marriage? (150 words, 10 marks)
About POCSO Act, 2012
- The Protection of Children From Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) criminalizes sex between a minor and an adult.
- The law does not recognize a minor’s consent as valid.
- Sexual assault under POCSO is a non-bailable, cognizable offense. This means that the police can make an arrest without a warrant.
- In this act, a presumption of sexual assault is being made in the case of child marriage involving minor girls below the age of 14.
- Sexual assault is not penetrative and carries a minimum imprisonment of three years that may extend to five years with a fine.
- Section 19, POCSO Act:
- It imposes a “mandatory reporting obligation”.
- This means that every person who suspects or has knowledge of a sexual offense being committed against a child must report it to the police or the Special Juvenile Police Unit.
- Failure to do so will result in imprisonment, a fine, or both.
- These mandatory reporting obligations also require doctors to report cases where minor girls seek medical assistance during pregnancies or for termination of pregnancies.
- Even if all parties involved have consented to the marriage.
Also Read: First Amendment to Constitution Challenged
The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006
- The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006, says that child marriages are illegal but not void.
- They are voidable at the option of the minor party, in the scenario that the minor petitions the court to declare the marriage void.
- The Act stipulates 18 years as the minimum marriageable age for women, while for men it is 21 years.
- The Act punishes child marriage with “rigorous imprisonment which may extend to two years or with fine which may extend to one lakh rupees or with both.”
- The punishment also extends to anyone who performs, conducts, directs, or abets any child marriage and includes rigorous imprisonment of up to two years and a fine which may extend to one lakh rupees unless proven that he had reasons to believe that the marriage was not a child marriage.
Debate on the Muslim age of Marriage
- Under Muslim personal laws, the marriage of a bride who has attained puberty is considered.
- Puberty is presumed, in the absence of evidence, on completion of the age of fifteen years.
- Usually, criminality under such marriages is put under a shadow due to the gap between Muslim personal law and special legislation prohibiting child marriages or the sexual activity of minors.
Also Read: What is Competition (Amendment) Bill, 2022?
Other Initiatives for Protecting Child marriage
- National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR):
- The NCPCR emphasizes the principle of universality and inviolability of child rights and recognizes the tone of urgency in all the child-related policies of the country.
- For the Commission, the protection of all children in the 0 to 18 years age group is of equal importance.
- Thus, policies define priority actions for the most vulnerable children, while focusing on regions that are backward or on communities or children under certain circumstances, and so on.
- National Commission for Women (NCW):
The National Commission for Women was set up as a statutory body in January 1992 under the National Commission for Women Act, 1990 to:
- Review the Constitutional and Legal safeguards for women;
- Recommend remedial legislative measures;
- Facilitate redressal of grievances;
- Advise the Government on all policy matters affecting women.
- Prevention of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill 2021:
- In 2021, the Central government sought to introduce the Prevention of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill 2021.
- The bill aims to raise the manageable age for women across all religions, from 18 to 21 years.
- However, the Parliament panel examining this is yet to submit its report, after receiving an extension in October 2022.
Also read: Delhi Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill, 2022 - UPSC Current Affairs
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the main causes of child marriage?
The roots of the practice vary across countries and cultures, poverty, lack of educational opportunities and limited access to health care perpetuate it. Some families marry off their daughters to reduce their economic burden or earn income. Others may do so because they believe it will secure their daughters’ futures or protect them.
What is child marriage Prohibition Act 2016?
In 2021, the Central government sought to introduce the Prevention of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill 2021. The bill aims to raise the manageable age for women across all religions, from 18 to 21 years. However, the Parliament panel examining this is yet to submit its report, after receiving an extension in October 2022.
Who first banned child marriage in India?
Diwan Bahadur Har Bilas Sarda was amongst the most well-known figures in India. His name will be etched in posterity as that of a humanitarian and reformer, who fought successfully against one of the most lamentable evils of Indian society. Har Bilas Sarda introduced the Child Marriage Restraint Act (1912), also known as the Sharda Act.
News Source: The Indian Express
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