NEW DELHI: The Women and Child Development (WCD) Ministry is set to move a proposal before the Cabinet this week for enhanced punishment in cases of sexual assault of male children, a senior official said.
The Law Ministry has cleared the proposal to amend the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012, for enhancing punishment in cases of sexual assault against young boys, officials said.
The POCSO Act deals with sexual offences against those below 18 years of age.
"Amendments to the POCSO Act for enhanced punishment for sexual assaults of young boys have been approved by the Law Ministry. It will be sent to the Cabinet in two-three days," the WCD Ministry official said, without elaborating on the details of the proposal.
Sources said that the ministry was working on the proposal to amend the Act to make rape committed against any child below 12 punishable with the death penalty.
The move is being seen to bring in a gender-neutral law while dealing with cases of sexual assaults.
Earlier, WCD Minister Maneka Gandhi supported a petition on Change.org by film-maker-activist Insia Dariwala, who said, "male child sexual abuse is an ignored reality in India".
Change.org stated that Gandhi, to whom the petition was addressed, had replied to the plea through "Decision Maker" response.
"Child sexual abuse is gender neutral. Boys who are sexually abused as children spend a lifetime of silence because of the stigma and shame attached to male survivors speaking out. It is a serious problem and needs to be addressed," she had said in April.
The Union Cabinet last week decided to introduce a bill that provides stringent punishment, including the death penalty, for those convicted of raping girls below the age of 12 years.
In 2007, the ministry had sampled 12,447 children in families, schools, at work and living on the street.
It had found that more than half had faced sexual abuse, and 53 per cent of victims were boys.
For Delhi, the figure was 60 per cent.