POCSO’s Useful Definitions

Aarambh has prepared a short list of ‘useful definitions’ that you may use while reporting on Child Sexual Abuse. It covers the laws, mechanisms and terminology around child protection and child abuse in India.

Child- Any person below the Age of 18 years

Child Sexual Abuse- Child sexual abuse happens when a person (younger or older than the child, male or female) involves the child (a boy or a girl) in sexual activities.


POCSO- Protection of Children against Sexual Offences Act, 2012. The law protecting children against sexual offences.

JJ Act- The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000. It provides a framework for the protection, treatment and rehabilitation of children in the purview of the juvenile justice system.


Juvenile Justice Board (JJB)- Juveniles accused of a crime or detained for a crime are brought before the JJB. Mumbai JJB is at Dongri, Sandhurst Road.

Child Welfare Committee (CWC)- is the sole authority to deal with matters concerning children in need of care and protection. Mumbai has 3 CWC. One is at the above address in Dongri. The Suburban CWC sits in Mankhurd and Thane CWC at Bhivandi.

Special Juvenile Police Unit (SJPU)- the purpose of the units is to enable police who deal with juveniles to be better equipped with knowledge and procedures on dealing with children in conflict with law. A police officer in every police station is trained as a juvenile or child welfare officer.

Special Court for Trials under POCSO – Special courts are set up to ensure speedy justice in POCSO cases. Guidelines prescribe that they be more sensitive to the needs and requirements of children who may be asked to give testimony or be cross-examined. Special Courts in Mumbai are courts 34 & 35 at Sessions Court, Fort.

Terminology: (Note: POCSO does not use the word ‘rape’.)

Penetrative sexual assault- inserting any object or using any part of body to cause penetration into any part of the body of the child or makes the child to do so

Sexual assault without penetration- touching penis, vagina, anus, breast of a child with sexual intent or making physical contact to child with sexual intent or making child do so.

Aggravated Sexual Assault- if the offence is committed by a person in a position of trust or authority like teachers, police, parents, public servants etc or if the child in question is below 12 yrs or if the child is disabled or if the injury to the child is grievous or if the child becomes pregnant, the assault is termed as ‘aggravated’.

Sexual harassment-
– (with sexual intent) making any sound or gesture or exhibiting any object or part of body so that child shall be heard or such gesture or exhibition shall be seen by child
– (with sexual intent)making a child exhibit his body or making gesture as it is seen by himself or other person
– (with sexual intent), constantly following or watching child either directly or through digital or any other means or
– (with sexual intent) showing any object to child in any form or enticing child for pornographic purposes

Abetment- If the accused if found instigating, conspiring and intentionally aiding any of the above acts, in any manner, it is an abetment offence. The punishment is same as that provided for the offence

Grooming- A process of identifying and engaging a child in sexual activity. It involves an imbalance of power and elements of coercion and manipulation. It involves motivation and intent to sexually exploit the child.

Online Sexual Abuse:

Cyber Harassment- when an adult or peer threatens or frightens a child or young person, sometimes, but not always, into taking part in sexual acts.

Child Sexual Abuse Materials- can be text, pictures, sounds or videos of a child engaged in sexual activities, images of sexual parts of a child or images that look like a child.(Preferred over the term ‘child pornography’)

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