Pedophilia: A mental disorder, not a crime per se

INTRODUCTION

According to a survey, 1% of the male population continues, long after puberty, to find themselves attracted to minor children. These people are living with pedophilia, a recurrent and intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors involving sexual activity with children, mostly of age 13 years or less. It's a mental illness, and like most people, they have no control over their sexual preferences. Unfortunately, our laws are failing them and, hence, ignoring opportunities to prevent child abuse.

MISCONCEPTIONS

There is no explicit cases on pedophiles in India, because India recognise every child sexual offender as a pedophile. This ignorance is not justified and awareness must be spread about this misconception. Pedophilia is a mental illness and it’s high time that India recognise it like other countries do.

Part of the failure stems from the many misconceptions that people have like pedophilia is the same as child molestation. One can live with pedophilia and not act upon it. Most pedophiles believe that sex with children is wrong. They have such sense of morality.They themselves are the victims of their mental condition.

A second misconception is that pedophilia is a choice. Recent research suggests that the disorder may have neurological origins. Pedophilia could result from a failure in the brain to identify which environmental stimuli should provoke a sexual response.

The third misconception is that pedophilia is much more common among men than among women. It can happen to anyone, but the difference lies upon the person who acts on it. Mostly men are more likely to act upon this disorder than women.

DIAGNOSIS

M.R.I.s of sex offenders with pedophilia show fewer of the neural pathways known as white matter in their brains. Men with pedophilia are 3 times more likely to be left-handed or ambidextrous, a finding that strongly suggests a neurological cause. But it is just a theory.

Some findings also suggest that disturbances in early childhood increase the risk of pedophilia. Studies have also shown that men with pedophilia have, on average, lower scores on tests of visual-spatial ability and verbal memory.

Predatory pedophiles may use force or coercion to engage children sexually and may threaten to harm them if the child tells anyone. Many of these pedophiles have an antisocial personality disorder.

Many pedophiles have or develop substance abuse and depression. They often come from a dysfunctional family, and marital conflict is common among them. Many have been sexually abused as children.

INDIA AND ITS STAND ON PEDOPHILIA

Pedophilia is not an offense under the Indian law, because Indian law does not identify pedophilia at all.

POCSO is the only act that is been made for child molestation in India. Child predatory concerns are valid in any country and laws to protect them must be executed.

The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 was enacted to provide a legal framework for the protection of children from offenses like sexual assault, sexual harassment, and pornography, while safeguarding the interest of the child at every stage of the judicial process.

The Act provides for a variety of offenses under which an accused can be punished.

It recognizes forms of penetration other than penile-vaginal penetration and criminalizes acts of immodesty against children too. Offenses under the act include-

  • Penetrative Sexual Assault: Insertion of penis/object/another body part in a child's vagina/urethra/anus/mouth, or asking the child to do so with them or some other person
  • Sexual Assault: When a person touches the child or makes the child touch them or someone else
  • Sexual Harassment: passing sexual remarks, sexual gestures, repeatedly following, flashing them, etc.
  • Child Pornography

The act is gender-neutral for both children and the accused. The Act also makes abetment of a child sexual abuse an offense.

So basically this Act only focuses on the victims and gives all the sexual offenders the same kind of punishment, but what it ignores is the mental condition of the offender. Pedophilia is a disorder that cannot be fully treated, so even if the offender does his/her time in jail, it doesn't guarantee that he/she will not repeat it again in the future, because of the lack of proper treatment.

There must be some law to differentiate sick or unfit people from the rest of the offenders so that proper treatment is available to them.

KEY POINTS

  • Pedophilia is a sexual orientation and is unlikely to change. Treatment aims to enable someone to resist acting on his/her sexual urges. Treatment is the only way possible to limit sexual molestation.
  • No intervention is likely to work on its own; outcomes may be better when the patient is motivated and treatment combines psychotherapy and medication.
  • Parents should be aware that in most sexual abuse cases involving children, the perpetrator is someone the child knows.
  • Misconceptions can harm people, and a proper diagnosis of these people is very important.
  • We need to spread awareness regarding this issue and India needs to act upon it.

CONCLUSION

People don't choose what arouses them, they discover it. No one grows up wanting to be a pedophile. But we cannot ignore the fact that it is a mental condition, which is recognized by many medical schools and experts. We have to understand that in some cases pedophiles are the ones who are the real victims because they do not know what they are doing and why they are doing so because of their illness. The important thing is that people know they do not want real-life sex with children and doing so is wrong and immoral. But there is no awareness regarding this condition. Even if someone wants treatment, they wouldn't know and have to live with this condition, which will not only harm them but also people (especially children) around them. We cannot identify and justify every sexual molestation against a child in a single Act or law.

 

Tags :
Published in Criminal Law
Views : 565
Other Articles by - Mehak Gupta
Report Abuse









×

  LAWyersclubindia Menu

Indian Evidence Act     |    x