NEW DELHI: Clutching her case papers, 54-year-old Purnima Govindarajulu stood inside the Parliament complex hoping to reach out to law makers with her story and the challenges on the road to justice. In October, the ministry of women and child development came out with a statement that there was no time limit for an adult survivor to file a case against the perpetrator of child sexual abuse. However, Purnima, whose appeal in January to WCD minister Maneka Gandhi made the latter initiate a review of the laws and the limits they set for reporting sexual abuse, is still struggling to find the road to justice.

Ever since Gandhi made the statement in October, Purnima has been more determined to take on her alleged perpetrator four decades after suffering abuse. However, her enthusiasm has found few takers with her lawyers telling her that the WCD ministry’s clarification on the position of reporting abuse under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012 does not make it clear if it applies to cases that happened before the law came into force. “What I have been given to understand by lawyers is that the clarification does not apply to pre-2012 cases and if that has changed it must be clarified in black and white by the government to enable effective implementation,” Purnima told TOI. She is now planing to write to the minister for WCD and law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad about her concerns and challenges.

Purnima is a conservation biologist based in Canada. TOI interviewed her in October where she said that she wants her perpetrator, now in his 70s, to face up to what he did to her when she was barely 10 – years – old and lived in Chennai. Purnima’s quest for an answer brought her to India and Delhi earlier this month. She was seen reaching out to some MPs at the parliament complex on Friday sharing the need for clarity on the legal position.

Enabling adult survivors of child sexual abuse to come out and report the case even decades after it happened, the government in October put out a statement that “now any victim, at any age, can complain about the sexual abuse faced by him/her as a child”. Minister for women and child development Maneka Gandhi has asked victims to report the cases on the POCSO e-box on the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights website.

Purnima told TOI that she has also submitted her case on e-Box of the NCPCR. “I wrote about my case on e-Box within a few days of the WCD ministry issuing the clarification. They responded immediately asking for more details. I promptly shared the details but since then there has been no response. I have send follow-up mails but there is no response so far,” Purnima said.

“The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 does not provide for any period of limitation for reporting sexual abuse offences,” Gandhi said in a statement issued in October. She had written to law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad earlier putting forth the ministry’s view based on a scrutiny of existing laws that there is no limit for reporting cases of child sexual abuse and asked the law ministry to “ratify” the same. Later WCD ministry issued a statement saying “The law ministry after examining the provisions of POCSO Act vis-à-vis provisions of CrPC has advised that there appears to be no period of limitation mentioned in Section 19 in regard to reporting of the offences under the POCSO Act, 2012.”

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