New Delhi: The Rajya Sabha on Wednesday unanimously cleared the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill 2019 which calls for stricter punishment for child abuse. (Also read: Muzaffarnagar Shelter Home Case: Charges Framed Against All 21 Accused Under POCSO Act)

Speaking during the debate, Trinamool MP Derek O’Brien recalled how even he had been abused as a child. He said, “As a 13-yr-old, after tennis practice and in short pants and a T-shirt, I got on a crowded bus. I was sexually molested, it was reason enough for an unknown man to ejaculate on the shorts of this boy.”

Stressing on the need to talk about these issues, he said, “I didn’t speak about it till I brought it up once much later in my life with my parents. We need to use this forum to reach out to people. The more people talk about it, the more children will be saved. Let’s work towards the prevention of this heinous crime.”

Union Minister Smriti Irani had introduced the bill in the Rajya Sabha last week. The bill was introduced earlier this year but lapsed due to the Lok Sabha elections.

Reports say that now, the minimum punishment for ‘aggravated penetrative sexual assault’ has been increased from ten to 20 years while the maximum punishment would now be the death penalty.

It also provides for punishment for storing and distributing pornographic material as well as life imprisonment for using children for pornographic purposes. Those who use a child for pornographic purposes should be punished with imprisonment for up to five years and a fine, says the bill. However, in the event of second or subsequent conviction, the punishment would be extended up to seven years along with a fine.

As per official data, over 12,000 rape cases were registered under POCSO Act this year alone.