Just a few steps away from her office gate, a man on a scooter rode up behind her, grabbed her breasts and sped away. He even had the audacity to turn around and grin. She was left rooted to the spot, unable to do anything but yell at him and shed tears of anger. It happened so fast.
Riti was 28 and even with all her clothes still intact, she knew she had been sexually violated that day. But last month a judge in Bombay High Court ruled that if this horrifying incident had happened to a child, it wouldn’t count as sexual assault.
The judge acquitted a 39-year-old man of sexual assault ruling that pressing the breasts of a 12-year-old child over her clothes without direct “skin to skin” physical contact does not constitute “sexual assault” under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
While the Supreme Court has put this judgement on hold, survivors as well as child safety and protection experts are shocked because the ruling sets a dangerous precedent that could deny justice to children.
If you feel strongly about protecting children from sexual predators, then raise your voice so that the Law Ministry and Chief Justices hear your solution and kindly sign my petition.
My petition asks for:
* “physical contact” to be clearly defined under the POCSO law so that it is not left to interpretation.
* sensitising judges to preside over POCSO cases in a child-friendly manner.
* Courts to remind judges to treat POCSO accused as guilty until proven innocent as per the law.