Parliament clears bill against child abuse
NEW DELHI: The legislation to protect children below 18 years from sexual abuse became a reality on Tuesday with Lok Sabha passing the bill earlier cleared by Rajya Sabha. Parliament's nod came with the decision to keep the age of consent at 18 years despite opposition from child rights activists.
The bill provides for special courts for speedy trial of cases and stringent punishment up to life term for the offenders.
Winding up the debate, women and child development minister Krishna Tirath said, "The bill is gender neutral. It seeks to protect children from sexual offences... the burden of proof will be on the accused."
Tirath said everybody below 18 years would be treated as child who would be helped by friendly provisions like in-camera trial, confidentiality and lodging of complaint at the place and time chosen by the victim.
While there was unanimous support for the bill, RJD chief Lalu Prasad raised the issue of erosion in values in the country and demanded the minister should have discussed the law in an all-party meeting. He said the provisions of the bill could be misused.
Prasad asked why the government did not move the Supreme Court against the decision of the Delhi High Court decriminalizing gay sex. "We are not animals, we are humans. Why have you not gone to the Supreme Court," he asked.
He said values had fallen and "dirty pictures" made in the country was making family viewing impossible.