Trigger Warning: This post contains information about physical and sexual abuse which some readers may find disturbing.
The Madras High Court has said that every school must keep a Complaint Box for survivors to complain about sexual assault freely, and the keys to the box must be under the control of the Secretary, District Legal Services Authority.
What are the major sexual offences against children?
The law on child sexual abuse punishes the following crimes against children (anyone below 18 years):
- Sexual assault
- Penetrative sexual assault
- Sexual harassment
- Child pornography
Do you have a duty to report child sexual abuse?
Yes, if you know about a crime where a child is being sexually abused or you fear that someone might commit such a crime, you need to provide information about this to the:
- Local police.
- Special Juvenile Police Unit in your district.
You can also contact:
- Childline India Helpline Number 1098
- National Commission for Protection of Child Rights
The punishment for not reporting the offence is jail time of up to six months and/or a fine.
How is a child survivor’s statement recorded by the police?
The police should record the child survivor’s statement at their residence or at a place of their choice, in the presence of their parents or any other person they trust. As far as possible, a woman police officer (out of uniform) not below the rank of sub-inspector should record it. The police cannot detain children in the police station at night for any reason.
While examining the child, the police officer must ensure that the child does not come in contact with the accused, and protect the child’s identity from the public media, unless the Special Court directs otherwise.
Wherever necessary, the police officer may take the assistance of a qualified translator or an interpreter while recording the statement of the child. In case the child has a mental or physical disability, they can seek the assistance of a special educator or an expert.
If possible, the police officer must ensure that the child’s statement is also recorded by audio-video electronic means.
To know more about protecting children from sexual abuse, read our explainer.