Vol IX, Issue 1
Date of Publication: January 12, 2024
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COMMENTARY: Navigating the conundrum of mandatory reporting under the POCSO Act: Implications for medical professionals
To address the under reporting of sexual offences against children, the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012, makes reporting of such offences mandatory. The duty to report such offences has been extended to healthcare professionals. The inclusion of healthcare professionals within mandatory reporting, however, strikes at the very foundation of the doctor- patient relationship based on trust and confidentiality and conflicts with the patient confidentiality safeguards of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017. It also has unintended public health consequences, such as denial of medical termination of pregnancy due to fear of prosecution under POCSO. An urgent reassessment of these mandatory reporting norms for healthcare professionals, and a solution-based approach that harmonises societal interest in the reporting of sexual crimes with the child’s right to health is essential.
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©Indian Journal of Medical Ethics 2024: Open Access and Distributed under the Creative Commons license ( CC BY-NC-ND 4.0), which permits only non-commercial and non-modified sharing in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.