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Protecting identities of sexual assault victims crucial


DDLSA urges all stakeholders to report sexual assault cases and protect identities of victims
 

DIMAPUR, JANUARY 21 (MExN): The Dimapur District Legal Services Authority (DDLSA) today called upon all stakeholders to be sensitive while dealing with cases of sexual assault, especially when it comes to the identity of the victims. 


A press release from the DDLSA expressed concern that, in recent times, “society has become insensitive to the need for privacy of victims of sexual offences and the mandate to protect their identity.”


It informed that no report, in any form of media, should disclose the identity of a child including her name, address, photograph, family details, school, neighborhood or any other particulars which may lead to disclosure of identity of the child. 


“Any person who discloses the identity of the victim shall be punished with imprisonment of not less than six months but which may extent to one year or with fine or with both under section 23 (4) of the POCSO Act,” the DDLSA made clear.


It further informed that recording of the victim’s statement can be done at the residence of the child or at the place of her choice but not in the police station and the identity of the victim is to be protected from the media.


During a trial of sexual assault, the victim’s examination is to be held in-camera, which allows the case to be taken up in the chamber of the Judge and not in the open court room. 


“Hence, the law has provided for protection of the identity of a victim of sexual offence/assault and every responsible citizen needs to be aware about these provisions of law, specially the police, the print media, social media, the courts and civil society,” the DDLSA informed.


The DDLSA further said that there is a legal duty upon all citizens to report sexual assault on children to the police and failure to report such cases would lead to imprisonment. 


Under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO); Section 20 of the Act stipulates that any personnel of the media or hotel or lodge or hospital or club or studio or photographic facilities coming across any material or object which is sexually exploitative of the child (including pornographic, sexual-related or making obscene representation of a child or children), is bounden to provide such information to the special Juvenile Police Unit or to the local police.


In this, the DDLSA said that as per Section 21 of the POCSO Act failure to report the commission of an offence by any person or failure to record a case of such sexual assault could lead to punishment with imprisonment for six months or with fine or with both. 


It meanwhile stressed the women have the right to live with respect and honour as they have many personalities combined viz, a mother, wife, daughter and sister. 


“They must have independence and freedom to live the role assigned to them by nature so that society shall flourish as women have the capacity and power to shape the society. Children also have a right to lead a peaceful life and enjoy their childhood and not to be exploited for obscene purposes,” it asserted. 


The DDLSA however observed that “in today‘s society, especially in India, women and children are at a disadvantage and often victims of sexual assault which destroys their entire psychology leading to a traumatic life.” 


“The society after knowing about the rape/assault starts looking down upon the victim woman/girl/child with disdain which creates fear in the mind of the victim to report the matter to police,” it lamented. 


It therefore said that in order to deliver a victim of sexual assault from social stigma and to dispense justice to the victim, one should come forward and assist the victim in reporting the matter to police while ensuring that her/his identity is protected.

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