Professor Presents at International Conference

Dr. Sesha KethineniDr. Sesha Kethineni, a faculty member in the Department of Justice Studies, attended the European Society of Criminology conference in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina August 29-September 1, 2018, under the title of Crimes against Humans and Crimes against Humanity: Challenges for Modern Criminology. Over 1300 participants attended the event. The conference covered topics related to comparative criminological research as well as different perspectives on crime and criminality.

Kethineni and her co-authors presented a paper on the Protection of Children from Sexual Abuse Act (POCSA) passed by the Indian government in 2012. Although India has been a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child (UNCRC, 1989), until recently, the county has primarily relied on the general criminal law, the Indian Penal Code (IPC) of 1860 and Special and Local Laws (SLL) to prosecute offenders for sexual crimes against children. In her paper, Kethineni argued for better protection for children and stringent punishments for perpetrators of sexual violence against children. She further pointed to the fact that most of the child abuse laws were ineffective in addressing atrocities committed against children.

According to Kethineni, the lack of attention is attributable to the reluctance on the part of the victim or the victim’s family to come forward due to social stigma, lack of effective legislation focused on child abuse, and the absence mandatory reporting requirements of child welfare professionals and related agencies. Kethineni reviewed the existence of various legislations that address offenses against children in India, in addition to interviews and data from special courts that were created under the POCSA. Her study revealed the role of the special courts that exclusively deal with sexual abuse cases against children, structural barriers (economic, cultural, or other) at various phases of the proceedings, and risk factors for children becoming victims of child abuse.

As Kethineni’s teaching and research focus on comparative juvenile and criminal justice systems and human rights violations, she is planning to utilize the knowledge gained from the conference in the classroom and research. Currently, she is working on a book on comparative criminal justice.