Child Victims’ Interactions with Criminal Justice: An Observational Study in West Bengal

Published date01 April 2023
AuthorDipa Dube,Rohini Kumari Shaw
Date01 April 2023
Subject MatterOriginal Articles
Child Victims’ Interactions
with Criminal Justice:
An Observational Study
in West Bengal
Dipa Dube1 and Rohini Kumari Shaw1
Crime occurrence has a serious impact on its victims; the toll is even greater
when it concerns children. They have to undergo severe physical, psychological
and emotional trauma in the aftermath of a crime. When children interact with
the criminal justice system, they are put through the gruelling processes of the
police investigation, recording statements, medical examination, appearance in
courts, cross-examination and so on. Each component has its own impact on
the children, with studies suggesting that participation of children in the ‘adult’
criminal justice process can be confusing, distressing and even re-traumatizing.
With international efforts to put victims as salient to the criminal justice dis-
course, things have changed. Recognizing the ineptness of the adult processes in
their application towards justice to child victims, States have modified the com-
plexities and attempted to establish a parallel system of justice dispensation that
is more ‘child-friendly’. India, on its part, has passed the Protection of Children
from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, to redefine the processes in its application to
children, especially in matters of child sexual abuse. Thus, special courts are set up,
incorporating special measures to ensure the privacy, confidentiality and comfort
of the child victims who appear before them.
Based on an observational study of ‘special’ and ‘designated’ courts in the State
of West Bengal, the present article indicates that Protection of Children from
Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act) directives are still not in place. The insufficient
number of fast-track courts, unavailability of dedicated personnel, infrastructural
inadequacies and inappropriate processes still mar the justice system. The article
forwards suggestions that are imperative to improve the overall experience of
child victims.
Criminal justice, participation, victim protection, victimization
Original Article
Journal of Victimology
and Victim Justice
6(1) 49–63, 2023
2023 National Law
University Delhi
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/25166069231157915
1 Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur, West Bengal, India
Corresponding author:
Dipa Dube, Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur, Kharagpur, West Bengal 721302, India.

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