The Rajya Sabha on Wednesday approved amendments to the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act to include death penalty for sexual assault on minors, PTI reported. The amendments also provide for fines and imprisonment for those indulging in child pornography.
The bill, which was introduced in Parliament by Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani on Tuesday, will now be sent to the Lok Sabha. It was approved by the Union Cabinet earlier this month.
During the debate on this bill, Trinamool Congress leader Derek O’Brien said he was sexually abused when he was a teenager and urged people in public life, such as other politicians, actors and sportspersons, to talk about their experiences instead of repressing their memories.
The 58-year-old leader backed the amendments to the bill but said he was disappointed that the government had not taken more time to improve the bill and create awareness on child sex abuse. He said prevention and awareness were more important than punishment.
“It’s very clear where the abuse starts, it starts at home,” O’Brien said in the Rajya Sabha, according to NDTV. “People, especially in public life, need to talk about this and start the conversation. The more people in public life that speak about the abuse the easier it will be for children to speak up.”
“That’s what I want to speak about, with a lot of pride, and sadness and hurt, I would like to share – my family knows and I feel India needs to know – I was sexually molested as a 13-year-old on a bus in Kolkata after tennis practice wearing short pants and t-shirt,” he added. “I got on to a crowded bus, I was sexually molested. A man ejaculated on the shorts of this boy.” He added that he didn’t speak about it to his parents for several years. “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.