December 7, 2021

India: Outrage after court reduces child sexual assault sentence

Legal experts have questioned the judgment, saying there are several factors in Pocso Act that make an assault “aggravated”, one of which is if the victim is under 12.

India: Outrage after court reduces child sexual assault sentence

India: Outrage after court reduces child sexual assault sentence photo credit: BBC

A judgment in the Allahabad high court, in India, has caused outrage as the court reduced the jail term of a man convicted of sexual assault after forcing a 10-year-old boy to perform oral sex on him.

This follows only days after the India Supreme Court struck down an order that cleared a man of sexual assault of a 12-year-old girl because “there was no skin-to-skin contact”.

The crime dates back to 2016 when the man visited the boy’s home and took him to a local temple where he sexually abused him. He gave the child 27 cents to keep quiet about the assault and threatened him if he reported it.

A trial court in August 2018 found the man guilty of “aggravated penetrative sexual assault” under the stringent Pocso (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act and handed him a 10-year jail sentence.

The man appealed and last week, the high court judge reduced his jail term to seven years, saying that under the law, the assault was not “aggravated” – implying that the crime was less serious than the trial court had deemed it to be.

Legal experts have questioned the judgment, saying there are several factors in Pocso Act that make an assault “aggravated”, one of which is if the victim is under 12.

The order has caused much outrage in India with many taking to social media to criticize it. Many pointed out that only a week ago the Supreme Court, while setting aside the Mumbai high court’s “no skin-to-skin contact” ruling, said that judges should consider “the sexual intent” and not the details of the act.

India is home to the largest number of sexually abused children in the world with tens of thousands of cases reported every year. Last year, the National Crime Records Bureau registered 43,000 offences under the Pocso Act – that’s an average of one case every 12 minutes.

Sources: BBC, Yahoo

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