Did you know that the POCSO Act does not apply to Jammu & Kashmir?
Meaning: the offenders in Asifa Rape Case cannot be charged for offences under the POCSO Act or even IPC.
So, the question that arises is will Asifa ever get justice if there is no child protection law in Jammu & Kashmir? Well, the answer in affirmative does look blurry if seen from a legal eye.
POCSO or the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act was enacted in 2012 and it has various provisions for punishing paedophilic offenders for offences like child pornography, sexual abuse categorised in penetrative and non-penetrative offences, attempt to abuse etc.
The punishment for these heinous offences in POCSO Act though is something which needs amendment.
Moreover, the offenders in such cases are generally people with paedophilic tendencies. Hence, after release they often commit the same offence again, over and over.
Thus, the POSCO Act calls for amendment in itself. Indian Penal Code was amended post the Nirbhaya case wherein sexual assault against a woman is now considered equivalent to rape. A similar amendment is yet to be made in the POCSO Act as sexual offence against a child is as heinous as against an adult woman.
Also, read: PM Narendra Modi Finally Speaks On Kathua & Unnao Rape Of 8 Yr Old Asifa Bano, Ignoring More Urgent Issues Like Shaming Congress
However, POCSO is still a legislation which has covered all aspects of child abuse and is something which is mandated in all states of the country except Jammu and Kashmir.
Therefore, the lack of a POCSO like Act in the territory of Jammu and Kashmir is very alarming.
Fight For Child Protection Law in J&K
The fight for a child protection act or law in Jammu Kashmir has been going on since long. The lack of such legislation in J&K has been problematic as the stress of getting the offenders becomes really difficult.
The Ranbir Penal Code (J&K’s substantive criminal legislation) does have punishment for certain offences, however, child abuse law is the need of the hour due to the number of cases being reported.
Also, in the absence of a specific legislation, different charges are invoked for offences like trafficking, murder etc. which often go against the abuse victims due to lack of merit for such offences.
In the Asifa case too, the POCSO cannot be attracted as it doesn’t apply to J&K due to its special status unless ratified by the State Assembly of the state.
Several activists have now demanded and started petitions to make POCSO applicable even in Jammu and Kashmir along with the hashtag ‘JusticeForAsifa’.
Further, several other petitions with demands for amendment in the POCSO Act itself are also doing rounds in India which ask for-
1. To make certain offences non-bailable under the POCSO Act and
2. to increase punishment of such offences of abuse due to their grave nature.
The question still holds though, in the lack of such child protection legislation are we fighting a lost battle of justice for Asifa?
Only time will tell!
Picture Credits: Google Images
Sources: Scroll, The Wire, Kashmir Reader + more
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