Child porn definition to be widened to curb crime

The Union Cabinet had on Wednesday approved the amendments to the POCSO Act.

The modification in the law will address the need for stringent measures against rising trend of child sex abuse in the country and combat the menace of relatively new kind of crimes, the government said.
NEW DELHI: The government is likely to introduce amendments to the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 in the Lok Sabha next week as part of efforts to check increasing prevalence of child pornography in the country.

The amendment bill, to be piloted by woman and child development (WCD) minister Smriti Irani, finally provides a clear definition of what constitutes child pornography, said government officials. Although the government had introduced an amendment bill in the Lok Sabha in January, the bill only prescribed punishment for the crime but did not explicitly define the crime, they said.

Referring to a portal launched by the Union home ministry earlier this year, officials said it did not define child pornography and that this did not help the cause of reporting. “A definition was necessary as it leads to setting the context of the crime. Only prescribing punishment leads to the possibility that the case may get entangled in inconclusive legal battles,” said a WCD spokesperson. “It also underlines and enforces citizens’ responsibility to report and destroy (the matter) as not reporting is an evidence of crime.”

As per the definition proposed now, child pornography constitutes “any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a child which includes photo, video, digital or computer generated image indistinguishable from an actual child”.

The definition includes digitally morphed images used for sexually explicit content as well as images of adults pretending to be children performing sexual acts. “The ambit defined now can also help deal with cyberbullying cases that often involve online harassment through morphed and animated images,” said an official.

The amendment bill proposes stringent punitive measures for child pornography, including in cases involving aggravated sexual assault. Failure to report or destroy such material or propagating it further will now be considered an offence.
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