On Wednesday, as the Rajya Sabha passed an amendment bill to the POCSO Act which includes death penalty for aggravated sexual assault on children, TMC MP Derek O’Brien recalled his own story of trauma during debate on the bill in the House.
“With a lot of pride and sadness and hurt but I think India needs to know because my family knows, that on a bus in Kolkata as a 13-year-old after doing tennis practice, wearing short pants and a T-shirt, I got on to a crowded bus and I don’t know who it was, but with my short pants and T-shirt I was sexually molested,” O’Brien told the Rajya Sabha while expressing support to the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill, 2019.
The TMC MP and former quizmaster also said that children should be encouraged to speak up and not hide incidents wherein they have been traumatised in this manner. He told the House that he did not speak about the incident for several years, and brought it up with his parents much later in life.
Smriti Irani, Minister for Women and Child Development, lauded O’Brien for sharing his own story of trauma. She was quoted by NDTV as saying, ”“That 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.”
The bill provides for fines and imprisonment to curb child pornography.
Irani said the government is setting up 1,023 fast track courts, which would specially deal withe POCSO related cases.
“Recognising that justice delayed is justice denied ,the government has sanctioned 1,023 fast track courts, particularly to be made for dispensing cases which were pending under POCSO, she added.
The bill would now be send to the Lok Sabha for approval.
Many activists have argued against the death penalty provision, saying that what it is a short-sighted response and that what India needs is better implementation of the law.
(With PTI inputs)