DMK MP Kanimozhi has said that she will push Parliament for the removal of the statute of limitations for reporting crimes of child sexual abuse. This comes on the back of a September 7th Change.org petition started by a Canadian researcher called Purnima Govindarajalu, who asked the government for adult survivors of abuse to be allowed to report child sex abuse to the police.
The petition mentions Govindarajalu’s own experience with child sexual abuse at the hands of her cousin’s husband, who performed forced oral sex on her, and her belief (which Kanimozhi has also espoused to reporters) that children often don’t understand what happens to them, and want or are able to report the crime only much later.
Currently, under the POCSO Act, the law says that adults who were abused as children can report child sex abuse, but Govindarajalu’s case throws up some interesting complications. The POCSO Act, which was enacted after 2012, allows people to report such crimes as adults, but only about instances that took place after 2012. Meaning that all those who were abused as children before 2012 can’t claim legal relief as it stands, as what happened to them wasn’t codified as child sex abuse at the time.
Similarly, penetration by finger and tongue also did not come under the definition of rape until the major 2013 amendment to the IPC, so in this case, Govindarajalu’s alleged rapist would only be tried for molestation.
That being said, it becomes really difficult to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that a person is guilty of a crime like rape or sexual abuse when it’s reported only decades later, as it becomes nearly impossible to collect sufficient evidence either way.