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Child Sexual Exploitation Socio-Legal Perspective

For children to develop into valued members of society, they must get proper nurturing during their early years. Children are particularly vulnerable to sexual assault and other forms of abuse because they represent the most vulnerable segment of society. The definition of child sexual abuse is the use of children for sexual purposes, which is a flagrant violation of their human rights.

When kids don't tell adults about the issue, it gets worse fast and spreads around the world, harming them physically, psychologically, and spiritually. The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, which imposed harsh punishments, was the first law the Indian government passed to combat the sexual abuse and exploitation of children.

The growing number of instances, however, indicates that the Act's execution is inadequate and that, as demonstrated by the most recent gang rape instances in Unnao and Kathua, law enforcement organizations are uninterested in acting against the offenders of this horrible crime. To increase the Act's effectiveness, the government was consequently compelled to make changes.

This study examines the problems surrounding child sexual abuse in India, including everything from the underlying causes to the legal ramifications. This article provides a critical analysis of the current legal framework, with a particular emphasis on the recently enacted revisions to the POCSO Act. The effectiveness of these adjustments is examined, and more strategies for effectively addressing this heinous crime are suggested. This report also addresses child sex abuse in India.

What Is Sexual Exploitation Of Children?

Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is a form of sexual abuse. It happens when a kid or young adult is coerced, misled, or pushed into having sex in exchange for whatever they might need or want gifts, drugs, money, status, or affection, for example.

Because children and young people are sometimes deceived into believing they are in a loving and consenting relationship , sexual acts may appear consensual. Grooming is the term for this type of maltreatment. Because they continue to believe in their abuser, they may not even be aware that they are being abused. Technology can contribute to CSE just as much as in-person interactions can.

Adolescents and minors may be trafficked into or out of the UK for sexual exploitation. They are moved around the country and forced against their will to engage in sexual actions, usually with many people. This constitutes abuse. Another danger is the sexual exploitation of minors by gangs. Abusers may intimidate or force a child or young adult into thinking they have no other choice by using threats and physical violence. As a kind of control, they may take the form of financial abuse, blackmail, or large loans that they know they are unable to pay back.

Anyone has the capacity to dedicate themselves to CSE , regardless of age, gender, or ethnicity. The relationship could be characterized as romantic, platonic. Adopted kids and teenagers could also be pressured to 'find' or coerce others to join groups. Adopted kids and teenagers could also be pressured to 'find' or coerce others to join groups.

Child exploitation is a concerning worldwide issue that necessitates careful investigation and action, especially when it takes the form of child sexual exploitation. To provide important insights to the ongoing efforts to protect children's rights and welfare, this research project aims to explore the complex interactions between the societal and legal components surrounding the issue. Children's vulnerabilities to various sorts of exploitation, especially online, have become more apparent as the digital age progresses. Examining this complex issue from a socio-legal perspective is essential to identify the underlying causes, evaluate the effectiveness of current legal systems, and investigate possibilities for stronger socio-cultural solutions.

Child exploitation, which can take many different forms, such as child labor or sexual abuse, is a serious global danger to children's basic rights and dignity. The development of technology has given these threats new dimensions, especially in the form of child exploitation on the internet, posing hitherto unseen difficulties for both legal and societal structures. Creating solutions that effectively address the modern manifestations of child exploitation requires an understanding of the historical background and the development of legislative responses.

Forms of sexual exploitation of children:

Child Sexual Exploitation
The act of hiring, utilizing, influencing, encouraging, luring, or coercing a minor kid to participate in sexually explicit behavior to create visual portrayals is known as sexual exploitation of children. The following specific behaviors are deemed to be sexual exploitation of a minor:
  1. Inappropriate contact with or exposure to a child
  2. Using language that is sexually explicit with a child
  3. Child's involvement in pornography
  4. Exposing a youngster to explicit content
  5. Early marriage under duress
  6. Sexual assault
  7. Incestuous relationships
  8. Slavery of sexual orientation
Transporting a kid between states or abroad with the intention of engaging them in any of the acts is also considered sexual exploitation of children. This kind of maltreatment of children

CSE might take place online or in person . Before sexually abusing a child, an abuser will first win their trust by using violence or extortion to dominate them. This is something that can occur quickly. consists of an adult exploiting their position of power or trust for sex abuse.

A Youngster Who Is Sexually Abused Online May Be Coerced Or Coerced Into:

send or publish explicit photos of themselves, record or watch explicit videos, or engage in suggestive dialogue. An abuser may use threats and blackmail to coerce a young person into engaging in additional sexual behavior if they get photographs, videos, or transcripts of discussions. They can even post the pictures and videos online or share them with other people.

Gangs take advantage of women and children:

To impose authority and control to initiate the use of sexual assault as a weapon. In addition to receiving drugs and alcohol, children and young people may be asked to get-togethers with adults or people their own age. One or more people may attack and sexually abuse them. Sexual abuse and attacks have the potential to be brutal, de-humanizing, and humiliating. It's crucial to keep in mind that someone who is intoxicated cannot consent to sexual activity.

Child Economic Exploitation

The use of a kid in any capacity for financial benefit is known as "economic exploitation of a child," or "criminal exploitation of a child." This frequently involves the "sale" or illicit adoption of children for financial gain, as well as child labor, child slavery, and child sex tourism. Children are frequently enlisted as soldiers and made to fight in war-torn nations, and they are also frequently employed to assist in the sale and distribution of illegal narcotics.

The Cases That Relating To This Child Sexual Exploitation:

Example: "Mr. Ramesh is a middle school teacher who likes very young girls. Ankitha is a 14-year-old student who sits in the front of his class, with her long, blonde hair, and striking blue eyes Mr. Ramesh engages Ankitha, asking her to help him grade papers school, promising to help her bring her grade to an A if she wants." Ankitha trusts her teacher, and so begins going to his class each day after school is out."

"Mr. Ramesh gets physically closer to her each day, often standing right behind her, or reaching over her to help her with her work, and soon begins touching Ankitha in ways that make her uncomfortable.' As the touching becomes more intimate, Mr. Ramesh warns Ankitha that she shouldn't tell her parents about their relationship, because they wouldn't want their little girl to be so grown up. "Mr. Ramesh has used his position of authority and trust, as Ankitha's teacher, to commit child sexual exploitation of a child, which is a felony."

The most important cases that can relate to child sexual exploitation in these recent days is that the case Former Bombay High Court Judge Pushpa Ganediwala case "The High Court judge had held that groping a minor's breast without removing her clothes did not fall into the category of sexual assault under the POCSO Act. judge Pushpa Ganediwala of Nagpur Bench had held that groping a minor's breast without removing her clothes did not fall into the category of sexual assault defined under Section 7 of the POCSO Act."

"She had saw while modifying an order by a sessions court that held a 39-year-old man guilty of sexual assault. The accused man had allegedly taken a 12-year-old to his house on the pretext of giving her a guava and had groped her breast and attempted to remove her salwar."

The Supreme Court had stayed the High Court order, saying that the judgement was "unprecedented" and "is likely to set a dangerous precedent. The Supreme Court held that sexual intent was the most important ingredient constituting sexual assault under POCSO Act and "skin-to-skin contact" in such incidents was not relevant.

Legislative measures addressing child exploitation:
  1. Protection of children from sexual offence (POSCO)
  2. Child labor laws
  3. Online child exploitation laws
  4. Child advocacy and supporting laws
  5. Mandatory reporting laws

Protection of children from sexual offence (POSCO):

Important Aspects of the POCSO Act:
As defined by the Act, "Children" are anyone under the age of 18. Gender is not a factor in the Act. The Act defines various types of sexual abuse, including but not limited to penetrative and non-penetrative assault, pornography, and sexual harassment.

In some cases, such as when the victim is a mentally ill youngster, sexual assault is "aggravated." Additionally, when someone in a trusted position like a doctor, teacher, police officer, or family member commits abuse. Sufficient measures are implemented to prevent the child from being revictimized by the legal system. A police officer is designated by the Act to act as a child protector while the case is being investigated.

The Act requires these actions to be taken, which makes the investigation procedure as kind friendly as feasible, and the case is resolved within a year of the offence being reported. The Act calls for the creation of Special Courts to hear cases involving certain violations and other matters. Section 45 of the Act gives the central government the authority to enact regulations.

The designated authority for overseeing the Act's implementation is the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) and State Commissions for the Protection of Child Rights (SCPCRs). Both are organizations mandated by law. The POCSO Act will take precedence over other laws' provisions in the event of inconsistency, according to Section 42 A of the Act. The Act mandates that sexual offences be reported. Under the Act, making a false complaint with the intention of defaming someone is illegal.

General principles of the POCSO Act

The Act mentions 12 key principles which are to be followed by anyone, including the State Governments, the Child Welfare Committee, the Police, the Special Courts, NGOs, or any other professional present during the trial and assisting the child during the trial, which are:
  • Right to life and survival: A child must be shielded from any kind of physical, psychological, mental, and emotional abuse and neglect.
  • Best interests of the child: The primary consideration must be the harmonious development of the child.
  • Right to be treated with dignity and compassion: Child victims should be treated in a caring and sensitive manner throughout the justice process.
  • Right to be protected from discrimination: The justice process must be transparent and just; irrespective of the child's cultural, religious, linguistic, or social orientation.
  • Right to special preventive measures: It suggests that victimized children are more likely to get abused again, thus preventive measures and training must be given to them for self-protection.
  • Right to be informed: The child victim or witness must be well informed of the legal proceedings.
  • Right to be heard and to express views and concerns: Every child has the right to be heard in respect of matters affecting him/her.
  • Right to effective assistance: Financial, legal, counseling, health, social and educational services, physical and psychological recovery services, and other services necessary for the child's healing must be provided.
  • Right to Privacy: The child's privacy and identity must be protected at all stages of the pre-trial and trial process.
  • Right to be protected from hardship during the justice process: Secondary victimization or hardships for a child during the justice procedure must be minimized.
  • Right to safety: A child victim must be protected before, during, and after the justice process.
  • Right to compensation: The child victim may be awarded compensation for his/her relief and rehabilitation.

The Mathura case is the well-known name for this case.

Two officers sexually assaulted a young tribal girl while she was under their care. The session judge's ruling that the woman had granted consent clarified India's rape laws. Subsequently, the Bombay court declared that while the session court's justices had made a distinction between sexual relations and rape, they had not done the same when defining consent and passive submission.

The defendants were found guilty of rape because of these findings. Subsequently, the Supreme Court decided that, since there was no proof of a physical attack on the girl or any attempt at resistance, there was a chance the girl had provoked the men. Because of this, our rape laws have undergone considerable changes.

This kind of judgmental rationalization has led to considerable changes in our rape legislation. The list below includes a few of them. The Indian Evidence Act of 1872 underwent an amendment through the Criminal Law (Second Amendment) Act of 1983. This act introduced section 114(A) which stipulates that in cases of rape where it is proven that the accused participated in sexual activity, the victim's claim that she did not consent will be rebuttable upon the court's assumption.

Custodial rape was added to the Indian Penal Code, 1860 by section 376(2), which covers crimes committed while the victim is under state custody. A fine and stringent penalties await the offender of section 376(2) violations. fine and strict imprisonment for a term that cannot be less than 10 years and may even be life are imposed on the offender under section 376(2).

The Act altered the burden of proof, which is now always on the prosecution. In rape cases when sexual contact has already been proved, the onus of proof will now be on the accused.

As a result, both socially and legally, the Mathura rape case was noteworthy. The Criminal Law (Second Amendment) Act of 1983 brought about a few improvements to the Indian rape law, marking the first time that rape cases of this magnitude in the country had provoked such widespread demonstrations and public uproar.

How to tackle the child sexual exploitation:

"Children were compelled to use the internet for education, amusement, and everything in between during the Covid-19 lockdowns. Their average screen time went up as a result. Children's online safety is under more threat because of this extended online exposure. These days, children are far more likely to be exposed to hazardous content due to the growing popularity of social media platforms, the use of educational apps, and the transition to online learning . Therefore, there is a greater need than ever to ensure children's welfare and safety online.

Online child sexual abuse and exploitation includes things like creating and disseminating child sexual abuse material (CSAM), sexually assaulting youngsters live on camera, getting explicit material, engaging in exhibitionism, and meeting the abuser. This presents Children who are prone to psychological stressors like sadness, anxiety, or trauma may suffer grave consequences as a result. Addiction to drugs and alcohol, self-harm, and decreased academic motivation are among the behavioral changes that may result from it. That's not all; childhood internet sexual abuse has far-reaching effects that may continue into adulthood, hurting interpersonal connections and posing intimate problems. Not only that, but the risk to the child continues even after the video is made and shared; every time it is viewed or shared again, the victim is violated.

Effects of child sexual exploitation:

Child sexual exploitation can have profound and lasting effects on the victims. These effects may include psychological trauma, such as depression, anxiety and feelings of shame and guilt. Victims may also experience physical health problems, substance abuse issues and difficulties in forming healthy relationships and long-term emotional scars that impact their overall well-being.

They can exhibit behavioral issues such as aggression, withdrawal, self-harm. The effects of exploitation can interfere with a child's ability to concentrate and learn, leading to academic difficulties and dropping out of school. They may show sexualized behavior at an inappropriate age as the result of their exploitation. In addition to this, they may suffer from physical health problems such as sexually transmitted infections, chronic pain or other medical issues related to exploitation or abuse.

This can extend into adulthood, affecting the victim's relationships, career prospects and overall quality of life. Experiencing unemployment and misuse of alcohol and drugs. Becoming pregnant at an early age may lead to the suicide of the victims.

Prevention of the children from sexual exploitation:

Incorporation trauma-informed practices into various settings, such as schools, healthcare facilities, and social service agencies can help professionals better to understand and respond to the needs of survivors in a sensitive and supportive manner. Providing accessible and specialized support services for children who have experienced exploitation can help mitigate the long-term effects and prevent further harm. This includes counseling and therapy and legal advocacy tailored to the needs of survivors.

Addressing underlying factors such as gender inequality, power imbalances, and harmful gender norms can help prevent exploitation by fostering environments where all individuals are valued, respected, and empowered to assert their rights and boundaries. Addressing the root causes of child sexual exploitation , such as poverty, homelessness, and family dysfunction, is essential for preventing vulnerability and reducing risk factors for exploitation. This may involve providing social support, and economic opportunities and educating children and parents about online safety, including the risks of online grooming and exploitation is crucial in today's digital age.

Teaching children how to recognize and respond to online threats as well as setting appropriate boundaries for internet use, can help mitigate risks. Teaching children and youth about their rights and how to assert themselves can help prevent exploitation. Encouraging open communication and creating safe spaces for children to express concerns. Providing training for professionals who work with children, such as teachers, healthcare providers and social workers on how to recognize and respond to signs of exploitation can help to ensure early intervention and support for the victims.

The child should be assured not to feel guilty about their parents. They should be caught about the good touch and bad touch.

A diversified strategy is necessary to effectively address child sexual exploitation. Encouraging stronger sanctions for criminals and better victim support services are just two ways to strengthen laws and practices at all levels. In addition, community education and awareness initiatives are essential in teaching the public about the warning signs of exploitation and how to report suspicions.

Youth who are empowered by focused programmers that emphasize healthy relationships, assertiveness, and self-worth will be better able to identify and reject exploitation. Specialized training guarantees that professionals who work with children such as educators, medical staff, and law enforcement officers are prepared to recognize and handle incidents in an efficient manner.

It is essential to include parents and other carers by providing them with information and support to help shield their kids from exploitation. Report abuse- If you witness a child being harmed or see evidence of abuse, make a report to your state's child protective services department or local police. When talking to a child about abuse, listen carefully, assure the child that he or she did the right thing by telling an adult, and affirm that he or she is not responsible for what happened.

In the current digital era, cooperation with technology companies to create and execute technologies to identify and prevent online grooming and exploitation is also crucial. Targeted assistance for vulnerable groups, such foster children or young people experiencing homelessness, also aids in addressing underlying weaknesses. It is essential to create multidisciplinary response teams with experts from different fields to coordinate efforts and assist survivors.

Moreover, funding programmers and groups run by survivors that offer chances for empowerment, advocacy, and peer support helps survivors speak more loudly and supports a survivor-centered approach. To create safer environments for children and avoid exploitation, evidence-based policies and resource allocation are informed by comprehensive data collecting on the prevalence and features of exploitation as well as by regular reviews of preventative programmer.

A summary, preventing child sexual exploitation necessitates a multifaceted strategy that includes support-based, educational, legal, and technical measures. We may endeavor to create a safer environment for children and prevent exploitation by putting into practice comprehensive tactics like enforcing stronger laws, educating communities, empowering youth, helping survivors, and working across sectors. The protection of children from danger must remain a top priority, and we must act proactively to keep them safe.

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