The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) was passed in 2012  to exhaustively deal with the issue of sexual offences against children. POCSO not only spells out the punishments for offences but also sets out a system for support of victims and better methods for catching offenders.

  • Both boys and girls can be victims under POCSO.
  • Both males and females can be punished for committing an offence under POCSO.


         Under POCSO ACT, 2012 ‘Child’ means any person below the age of 18 years. The child could be male or female. The offender too could be male or female as I mentioned above. POCSO is thus a gender-neutral law- the child victim of a sexual offence could be a boy or a girl.


The act categorizes offences into three main types, each explicitly defined within the legislation. Detailing the offences clearly which are mentioned in the POCSO ACT.

1. Sexual assault

2. sexual harassment

3. pornography


Generally, sexual assault means touching the private parts of a child with sexual intent who is a male or a female or making the child touch another person’s private parts of the body is considered as a sexual assault.

Penetration does not come under sexual assault.

“Penetration” means inserting any object or part of the body into the child. It is even noted as a serious offence which was separately dealt with under the POCSO ACT.

Any act or physical contact with the sexual intent also cones under sexual assault.

               The situation that clearly explains sexual assault is the girl who is sixteen years old travelling on a bus and the person who stands behind her on the crowded bus there is no space to move from there and the man who was standing behind him unnecessarily trying to touch he suddenly touches her breast and starts fondling it. The girl screams and throws away his hand and the man says that the girl was falling that’s why he holds her. But this was a sexual intention on the child. The man committed the offence of sexual assault under POCSO ACT.


Punishment for committing sexual assault on a child is a minimum of 3 years imprisonment, which can extend to 5 years of imprisonment as well as payment of a fine.

The sexual assault there are two more specific types involved under this, they are:

  • Penetrative sexual assault
  • Aggravated SA or penetrative SA


Penetrative sexual assault is a graver offence than sexual assault. It involves any person who engages in: 

  • When any object or any part of the body is inserted into the child or forced to do so with the same person or with the other. OR
  • Penetrating his penis to any extent into the vagina, mouth, anus or urethra of the child. OR 
  • Penetrating any object into the child’s vagina, mouth, anus or urethra OR makes the child do so or with him or any other person.
  • The child is in the age group of 16 to 18 years old.


Punishment for committing the offence leads the person to imprisonment for up to a minimum of seven years, which can extend to life imprisonment, as well as payment of fine.


Aggravated sexual assault OR Penetrative sexual assault is an even more severe form of offence which can be committed by certain persons or in certain circumstances, the offences are said to become AGGRAVATED and the punishment is much greater.

  • The sexual assault causes grievous hurt or bodily harm or endangers the life of the child.
  • Sexual assault is committed during communal or sectarian violence.
  • The offender is a police officer, public servant, any staff of a hospital or a member of the armed forces who committed sexual assault amounts to AGGRAVATED SEXUAL ASSAULT.
  • The offenders who commit PENETRATIVE SEXUAL ASSAULT as a police officer, public servant, any staff of a hospital or a member of the armed forces amounts to penetrative sexual assault.
  • Gang sexual assault or gang penetrative sexual assault of a child by one or more than one person is considered to be under aggravated sexual assault.
  • If the person uses dangerous weapons causing harm to the child or killing the child.
  • Repeated sexual assault or repeated penetrative sexual assault of a child also comes under aggravated sexual assault.
  • The offence is committed below 12 years of age.
  • If the person who is in the position of trust or some other relative or some other person who is living in the same shareholder can commit such type of an offence is also a crime.
  • The offence faced by the child who is known to be pregnant is also an aggravated penetrative sexual assault.
  • The accused who had a previous past that he or she had committed these or any other serious offences done by the persons.

As it was included under the sexual assault but the penetration as a separate offence the severity of the punishment is commensurate with the gravity of the offence. It amounts to 12 years or below the age group of 12 comes under aggravated sexual assault or aggravated penetrative sexual assault.


  • The person who has committed the crime experiences imprisonment up to a minimum of 5 years which may extend to 7 years, and also includes payment of fine. 
  • The person who has done the aggravated penetrative sexual assault can lead the person to 10 years of rigorous imprisonment which may extend to life imprisonment, as well as payment fine.
  • The punishment may increase in the case of rape under the Indian Penal Code wise aggravated penetrative sexual assault under POCSO can have enhanced punishments will be given.
  • Punishments may vary according to the nature of the offence which is also based on the child’s age and what the offence was like that means if it was an aggravated one it may lead the convict to face rigorous imprisonment.

* As the child is below the age group of 12 years and the man has done aggravated penetrative sexual assault then the imprisonment term of 20 years also includes the natural life in prison and leads the person to even death by the court’s order and he must have to pay the victim’s rehabilitation payments and medical expenses.

*If The child is below the age of 16 years of age and faces the aggravated penetrative sexual assault then the punishment is up to a minimum of 20 years of imprisonment and extended imprisonment for the remainder of natural life.

*The child below 16 years of age got gang raped by a group of persons the punishment term for 20 years and which extends to life imprisonment and also payment of a fine.

*Gang rape of a child below 12 years of age group the punishment that the accused experiences 20 years of imprisonment and which may rigorously extend to death and also payment of a fine.


Sexual harassment is characterized by engaging in inappropriate actions with sexual intent towards a child without her consent and harassing in such a way condemned under both the Indian Penal Code and under the POCSO Act, 2012 is said to be an offence.

Let us know what those circumstances involved under the POCSO Act, 2021, constituting sexual harassment and prescribes penalties for those found guilty.


  • Any form of intentional touching of the child’s body or making the child touch another’s body for sexual purposes falls under sexual harassment.
  • Using words or acts with sexual intent and engaging in spoken or written words using explicit language or gestures towards a child to cause discomfort.
  • Making sexually coloured remarks of a sexual nature or uttering remarks to sexually harass the child.
  • Displaying, showing or sharing any pornographic material or adult content causes physical to the child, either in physical form or through electronic media.
  • Engaging in gestures actions or movements of a sexual nature towards the child, intending to harass is also one of the circumstances under the Protection of a child from sexual offences.
  • Unwanted advances, stalking or any behaviour intended to exploit the child sexually that may cause discomfort or harassment to the child.


Penalties for the offence of sexual harassment, including imprisonment up to a minimum of 3 years as well as payment of fines.

The situation where sexual harassment was clearly shown in the movie So-called Chinna where the girl child was harassed by a man who was forty-five to fifty years old harass the girl child bath in front of the child wouldn’t do so he would throw snakes at her by blackmailing and threatening her that man uses to harass her like anything and the girl child was scared of him and done her bath and that rogue use to harass her sexually while doing bath and she became mentally and physically very low. this was very heartbreaking how the girl child could get protection from this type of rogues where is the safety and protection for the child? like her many innocent children were experiencing this type of sexual harassment.  `


Using pornography acts like showing any representation of sexual content or any adult content in any form of electronic media (eg: TV, mobile phones, internet etc.) for sexual gratification is considered to be an offence under the POCSO Act, 2012.


  • Creation of acts by producing, making, or generating any form of child pornography is strictly prohibited under POCSO.
  • Sending, sharing, or disseminating any material depicting a child engaged in sexual acts is considered an offence.
  • Simply leading the child either of the genders of both male and female showing any person the obscene way of content is completely against the law.


If any person violates the law, then those people can have severe punishments which lead to imprisonment of up to 5 years as well as payment of a fine and extended imprisonment if the offence is repeated.


  • If any person does not give the information or file the case regarding any offence on the above-mentioned circumstances under the POCSO Act After the incident occurs or before it has occurred, (or if someone who has official control over reporting the offence) will be punished. It is MANDATORY to report the offence to the any case, if the child or their parents were scared any anyone, they were able to directly contact the officers.
  • The offence must be reported to the special Juvenile police unit or the local police.
  • It is not necessary that the child only should provide the report.
  • If any false cases can be done against any child, then they will be punished under the POCSO Act, based on provisions.
  • One must be careful in the information with clarity.
  • Do not leak or disclose any such information regarding the child and her details, it should be kept confidential.


*If any person fails to report to the police, they will be imprisoned for 6 months and pay of fine and a person who is scared of the officials and committed of offence was not filed, could be extended punishment up to 1 year and also payment of fine.

*If any false cases are imposed on the child by giving false information and spoiling the child’s reputation can lead them to imprisonment for up to 1 year.

*If a child gas given any false Information the child cannot be given any punishment.

*The person who discloses the child’s information to anyone or in any media platform like name, address, specific details, or photographs and videos can be punished for up to 6 months (minimum) and 1 year in prison and /or fine.


 After the offence if the child needs any treatment immediately it should be provided without any delay proper care and protection must be provided to the child by the Special Juvenile Police Unit (SJPU) or the local police will be taking action within 24 hours of filing the report.

  • Recording the statement of the child in words or spoken by the child in the presence of their parents or any person whom the child trusts during the examination and the information should be preferably taken by the women magistrate or the police officer.
  • While taking the information the child must feel as comfortable as possible and it is better to take it even in their house or place where the child is much more comfortable. If the child is disabled with mental or physical distress then the translator can be appointed and frequent breaks should be during the process.
  • The trial of cases can be done under the special courts so that the child can be re-victimized and the court will be child-friendly. Special public prosecutors are appointed and the trial must be held in private cameras and the child’s face or any other information can not be exposed in public or open court. 
  • If the child is having any disability challenges in providing the information expert can be appointed.
  • As mentioned above the accused is guilty and the court presume the accused to prove the innocence and direct for payment of compensation to the child.


In conclusion, the grim reality painted by incidents of child abuse and exploitation demands urgent attention and collective action.  The heartbreaking instances of innocent lives being marred by exploitation highlight the vulnerability of children, even in the age of advanced technologies and protective legislation. Parents find themselves navigating a daunting terrain, striving to shield their children from harm while grappling with the complexities of modern parenting. It is disheartening to note that, despite the strides India has taken since gaining independence, the freedom and security of the girl child continue to be compromised. Breaking the shackles that restrict the freedom of girl children. The key lies in fostering awareness at every level. The POCSO Act should serve as more than a legal document, it should be a guiding light, illuminating the path toward a safer, more nurturing environment for children. Education about good and bad touches, coupled with open communication between parents and children, is paramount. Parents must be vigilant, approachable, and empathetic, creating an atmosphere where children feel secure in sharing their concerns. In concern, the journey toward a society free from the scourge of child sexual abuse is a collective endeavour. We can aspire to create a world where every child, irrespective of gender, can revel in the joys of childhood without fear or restraint.  The POCSO Act, when coupled with a broader societal commitment, can be the catalyst for change, paving the way for a brighter and safer future for our children.

Author (s) Name: BOKKI HARIKA

Sri Padmavati Mahila Vishwavidyalayam, Tirupati.

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