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As Parliament amends #POCSO to include the death penalty, a closer look shows that political posturing contrasts with reality. Politicians are often the ones protecting the rapist-killer. Pinki Virani takes a look at this scenario. #FPthreads 1/18
In November 2013, after more than seven months of work, Pinki Virani filed a PIL regarding cases which involved crimes upon children by adults. There were four identified cases – four children in different states murdered by five rapists. 2/18
All cases had been awarded the #DeathPenalty by all three tiers of courts and yet, all of the convicted rapists were still very much alive, living on tax-payers' money in jails, till 2013; the SC had awarded their death sentences in 1999, 2003, 2005, 2008. 3/18
In the monsoon of 2015, one of the rapists, from Jharkand, died. He had chopped off the head of the nine-year-old boy. He was given the death penalty in all three courts. And yet, he received a Presidential pardon. 4/18
This PIL could reach the Supreme Court because of the Right to Information Act. But in July 2019, the #RTI was amended. The RTI was also why the SC could discover how randomly its judgments are tossed elsewhere. 5/18
This was due to an RTI filed by Subhash Agrawal; he asked how many people had been pardoned by President of India Pratibha Devisingh Patil, how many granted clemency from the death penalty. With the amendment, will such detailed information ever be possible again? 6/18
As the Government passes amendments to the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, the media is lauding the idea of making the law "gender-inclusive”, and the plan to give child-pornography an encompassing definition. 7/18
But the reality is that #POCSO has been meant to protect both, boys and girls under 18, since the year of its inception [2012] with the law clearly not differentiating between children. 8/18
Smriti Irani announced that POCSO would now include the death penalty. But POCSO has always been free to be read by any judge alongside the Indian Penal Code, which stipulates the death penalty for heinous crimes against all, be they adults or children of any gender. 9/18
39% of India, 47 crore Indians are younger than 18 years old. 1 in every 3 girl-children and 1 in every 4 boy-children are likely to be sexually abused. More than 50% of these crimes will be perpetrated by those in position of the child and teenager’s trust. 10/18
Timely intervention and a sense of support can make all that difference not only to the abused child but to society at large, and therefore a country. What halts child sexual abuse? Here are three possible answers. 11/18
First and foremost, prevention – for an entire childhood uninterrupted, prevention is the best form of cure [overseen by the child’s parents, close family, school-college, society-at-large]. 12/18
Second, a strong law.

Third, a “live” law. A law that is rigorously in use by police and prosecution. This ties in with the first. The visible presence of police and the threat of immediate and swift prosecution also leads to some amount of prevention. 13/18
Post-Nirbhaya, anti-rape laws were tightened, Sushil Kumar Shinde – although anti-death penalty himself – added the death penalty proviso in IPC 376 for gang-rape and for those who leave the victim in a persistent vegetative state. But perhaps not much has changed. 14/18
Remember the politicians in Parliament, playing to the galleries, hamming it for the cameras across party lines after #Nirbhaya? But even now rapists get bail, rapists in jail reportedly manage parole and disappear, and rapists who murder escape the noose. 15/18
On 29 July, Bombay High Court commuted the death sentence of 2 convicts for the 2007 kidnapping, rape and killing of a BPO employee in Pune as the “delay” in their execution was “inordinate” and “unreasonable”. They will now enjoy life-imprisonment. 16/18
The jails at state and centre are looked after by ministries headed by elected representatives. Why the delay of more than six months by these politicians to ensure the carrying out of a death penalty? A strong law is not enough unless it is "live". 17/18
On 2 June, 2012, the death sentence of another rapist-murderer was also commuted to life by a Presidential pardon. He had been dead since 18 October, 2007. Why is it that these perpetrators receive political sympathy? 18/18…
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