POCSO Bill: Trinamool MP Derek O’Brien recounts trauma

Speak up on child abuse, says MP

Published - July 25, 2019 01:17 am IST - New Delhi

Derek O’Brien

Derek O’Brien

The Rajya Sabha on Wednesday approved the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill, 2019 , that incorporates amendments including provision of the death penalty for aggravated sexual assault on children, besides providing stringent punishments for other crimes against minors

The Bill, which also provides for fines and imprisonment to curb child pornography, would now be sent to the Lok Sabha for its approval.

Earlier, during the discussion on the Bill, Trinamool MP Derek O’Brien recounted the abuse he had experienced as a boy. Observing that the abuse often started at home, he said that when more people in public life spoke about abuse, the easier it would be for children to speak up.

“I was sexually molested as a 13-year-old on a bus in Kolkata. After tennis practice, wearing short pants and a T-shirt, I got on to a crowded bus... A man ejaculated on the shorts. I didn’t speak about it,” Mr. O’Brien said. “We need to use this forum to reach out to people. The more we talk about it, the more children will be saved,” he added.

Unanimous decision

Applauding Mr. O’Brien, Union Minister for Women and Child Development Smriti Irani said that it was often difficult for men to come out publicly to proclaim that they too could be victims of sexual abuse. “The fact that an MP today shared what he faced at age 13... 46 years later, tells us what an imprint sexual abuse leaves on a child,” Ms. Irani said.

“At least 123 fast-track courts have been sanctioned by the government especially for women,” the minister said. “More than one lakh cases are pending across the country and 18 States have given consent to establish these courts. The government has sanctioned over ₹700 crore for the expenditure and by 2021, we aim to form these courts.” Ms. Irani also informed that more than 6 lakh sexual offenders had been registered under the National Sexual Offenders Registry (NSOR).

Support for the Bill was unanimous in the House.

Welcoming the amendments, Congress leader Vivek K. Tankha said, “But the stringent provisions are not stopping such incidents.” Asserting that the National Crime Records Bureau had no data on offences against children after 2016, Mr. Tankha highlighted the poor conviction rate under the law and said that out of over one lakh such offences, trials had been completed in about 10,000 cases with conviction in just 30% of the cases.

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