‘Bill seeks to let 12-yr-olds have non-penetrative sex’. Does it really?

I would watch any intimacy – even if it’s not very obviously sexual, between an adult and a child. I have blogged about how I had made sure my kids knew they had a right to complain if an adult’s touch, behavior, jokes or just looks made them uncomfortable. [Link] But if two young children (say ages 12-13 or younger) are found to be involved in non-penetrative sexual activity I would rather question the parents and other care givers than ask for the children to be treated like criminals.

There is a chance that they have been exposed to sexual abuse or some activity they do not quite understand. And even if it is felt that the children do understand (ages 12-15), I wonder if it’s a good idea to empower ‘the authorities’ to handle young children at this sensitive stage in their lives.

One has seen enough examples of how our police and some of our media handles any activity where sex is involved (Not to miss how this news has been reported, and on the front page). I remember the time when some of our media, used one such opportunity to ‘recreate the scene of crime‘… and their TRPs.

Here’s more reasons.

1. We are averse to Sex Education, so we refuse to guide children about anything related to sex. We’d rather change TV channels. Most Indians learn about sex from rape scenes in Bollywood movies, cheap porn and through their peer group.

2. But we are fine with 12 year olds being seen as criminals for something we are not comfortable even talking to them about?

3. And so, we are unhappy with the idea of decriminalizing an activity they are too young to completely understand the implications of being involved in. (taboo; social stigma for girls; emotional, cultural and moral issues involved; family-honor; responsible behavior etc).

4. Criminalizing such activity increases the risk of children being blackmailed into sexual abuse (by adults who ‘catch‘ them, like teachers, drivers, neighbors, ‘authorities’ etc) with threats of not just parental anger, but now also, legal action against them.

And this when they don’t really understand how seriously our society takes any activity related to sex. πŸ™„

Aparna Bhat, a Supreme Court lawyer who was part of a National Commission for Protection of Child Rights group that drafted the latest Bill said the gradation of age down to 12 years was to decriminalise sexual exploration by two children.

I don’t think the ‘Bill seeks to let 12-yr-olds have non-penetrative sex’, it simply wants to ensure they are not treated like regular criminals for something they can’t completely understand.

Under the existing law, if two 12-year-olds get physical and if one childs parent complains, the other can be pulled up by the Juvenile Justice Board. The panel felt such minor things should be decriminalised, she said.

This does not make 12 years the ‘Age of Consent’. An adult will still be seen as a rapist if they have sex with a 12 year old, but if two 12 year olds are involved, they will be seen as two 12 year olds, not as regular criminals.

Raaj Mangal, chairperson of Delhi Child Welfare Committee said the Bill could prove “disastrous“ if it comes into effect. “Twelve, given the mind and maturity of a child, is not an age to give consent, be it penetrative or non-penetrative sex. In the name of decriminalising, you can`t keep sexual acts between children out of the notice of the authorities,“ said Mangal.

Should the likes of those who see Sex Education as ‘Blue Films’, have the power to judge sexual activity between two 12 year olds? Why not let the parents deal with non penetrative sex,Β  just like they deal with most other issues related to their children? (including Sex Education)

 

Related Posts:

Teenage Pregnancies – not our culture.

Sex Education is not Blue Films.

It’s child abuse, not an affair.

When life ends at 12.

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73 thoughts on “‘Bill seeks to let 12-yr-olds have non-penetrative sex’. Does it really?

  1. When I was 14, I was running on hormones πŸ™‚ .When I finally did “explore”, I was still a minor and the deplorable laws of India would have made me a criminal! I wasn’t abused as a child and didn’t suffer from any traumatic injury. It’s just normal.

    Luckily I had supportive parents. My mom told me that if I wanted to do anything of the sort, then please don’t do it outside in any hotel or any other risky place, but to bring the girl home instead.

    You’re right in that the bill doesn’t make sexual abuse legal in any way. I’ve read a lot of reactions to this news and I’m startled that parents of teenagers are against it. One would think that they would be happy that their children would no longer be classified as sexually abusive criminals…

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    • I agree, that is why I added, ‘And even if it is felt that the children do understand (ages 12-15), I wonder if it’s a good idea to empower β€˜the authorities’ to handle young children at this sensitive stage in their lives.’

      I read some of the comments at the bottom of the news article and here’s one sample,

      //Nonsence! Has our govt. gone insane.That is the age in which the children would waveing mind and will be getting nasent knowledge about sex. In those days the parent will marry their children before they become active in sex knowledge. The result was safe marraiage, less divorce and good morale of the children. Now with late marriage everything is vice versa//

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        • I read that! That’s exactly what they feel. The child’s welfare is never a concern, social norms are – so a married young child can be abused by her husband, but two young children should be treated like criminals.

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  2. While I agree the bill just decriminalizes it, I am more concerned that this will cause more kids to be abused due to misunderstanding or mis-interpreting the bill to mean adults can have non penetrative sex with 12 year olds….or maybe I am just making too much of nothing!

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    • Yes that risk is there, that is what happened to legalising of Live in Relationships, Shilpa. Enough, easy to understand, clear information should be made available.
      But we still need to decriminalise it don’t you think so? I feel this is extremely irresponsible of the media to have splashed the news so inaccurately and sensationally on the front page.

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      • True Sraboney. That is why gradation has been suggested and decriminalization for the youngest of the kids, only if the age difference is not more than two years (and neither is more than, say 15). But even if one of the kids is more ‘mature’ – I wonder if they should be treated like criminals? I know of mothers who believe girls mature before boys do and, in one case, when her son was in class 8 (age13-14), an acquaintance was sure the girls in his class were a threat to him. Physical maturity does not automatically mean emotional maturity. Some general guidelines as to ages are needed I feel.

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    • One of the comments, clearly explains our aversion to talking about sex,

      //But these guys / politicians are concentrating only on Sex life rather than other socio-economic issues. These ppl should think abt our culture and history rather than westerns constitution and their materialistic world. It is our bad luck that we born in india and following western culture. I prefer to born in Western country next time and follow indian culture.////

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      • I can’t understand why ‘Western’ culture is seen as bad…There are good and bad aspects in every culture…I’m an Indian and I think our culture has a lot of good and bad things…I want o ask this person “Is sati a good thing?”

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      • I agree, IHM, in my good touch-bad touch talk, I told my kids that even older kids cannot touch them. 8 year olds in my building were found watching porn. One 10-yr old girl went and complained to a 11-yr old boys’ father that he was touching her chest, while he maintained that he’d just been tickling her…the resulting fight between the families seriously suggests that filing a case could’ve been a possibility.

        I also agree that TOI tends to sensationalise and put the wrong spin. Appreciated your POV. Maybe, you are right! But yes, I would prefer it to be a totally non-ambiguous law…that removes any doubts about ‘allowing’ or ‘encouraging’ sexual exploration and child abuse.

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  3. I don’t believe what I have just read!! 12-year olds are CHILDREN and ‘sex’ is not in their dictionary. Irrespective of what the bill says or seeks, at the outset, I am just simply shocked and hate to think that as a society, we are accepting the fact that kids have sex?!!

    But I would rather see children wait until they are atleast 18, when they are mature enough to understand the consequences (physical AND emotional) before they even attempt something like that!!

    I guess I’m just old-fashioned.

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    • I understand your horror. But supposing 12 year children are found involved in any sexual activity (kissing etc), should they be treated like criminals?

      I know from personal experience that children know more than most parents like to believe. What we can choose is, to hear about it or we can ask them not to tell us what they know. We really can’t choose if they know something or they don’t. And if they are able to tell us what they know, we can tell them how we feel about it (like waiting till they are 18 etc) – but if we refuse to hear what they know, how do we guide them?

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    • But at the age, 12 year olds are just beginning to go through puberty. There’s going to be a desire to explore. That’s why sex education is so important. It’s important to teach kids about their feelings and bodies. I don’t see how this bill promoting sex, I also agree with IHM. Kids these days do more than what adults want to believe. They’re obviously getting their information for somewhere and it’s usually harmful information. So treating kids like criminals obviously isn’t the answer.

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    • But writerzblock, what we want and what the reality is, are very far apart, no? We don’t have a TV, but whenever I do watch TV programs or most commercial cinema, there is a LOT of titillation, objectifying and overt sexual suggestions…what does that do to a child or pre-teen who is freely allowed to watch this trash? Parents don’t talk to their kids, and act horrified about laws like this (I did too, but I talk to my kids), but they will allow their kids to watch sexy gyrations and really obscene stuff. Hormones are not even needed…kids these days are ‘turned-on’ and highly likely to explore.

      Old-fashioned doesn’t work anymore. We need to wake up.

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      • I agree Starry. It really took me a while to understand. Infact I just realised every TV program has something on the lines of love or kissing. Most of the cartoons have the same thing!! French kiss for toddlers to watch?! Its disgusting. Scary too.

        But yeah, like you have all said so aptly, this does happen, our kids know more than we assume they do, and I wouldn’t want my kid to be treated as a criminal when he is high on hormones!!!

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  4. WHAT THE HELL….

    YES IT IS CRIMINAL … 12 year old what do they know OH MY GOD this is really going worst even here its 16 the age for consentual sex …

    YES it shud be criminal I dont beleive this what happening to the world INNOCENSE lost , no no one can sugar coat this as they want BUT IT IS CRIME

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    • But Bikram don’t you think 12 year is too young for a child be called a criminal?

      The world is not changing, Bikram, earlier children were given little choice, no consent was needed, they were married to men old enough to be their grand fathers. Today an adult would be considered a rapist, whether or not he claims the 12 year old was willing (i.e. had consented) and that is how it should be.

      But if there are two little kids involved, then? Don’t you think even if they are involved in some activity out of any reason (like curiosity or exposure to something age-inappropriate) – do these 12 year olds even know the implications of what they are doing? Should they be treated like ordinary, adult criminals? Isn’t it the society’s responsibility to make sure they had enough information and guidance to make sure they understood the seriousness of what they were doing?

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      • but still IHM 12 years old .. godddddd.. WE should be thinking of teaching them , talking to them , letting them know right from wrong.. now making laws to cover our backs ..

        Sorry not with you on this…

        I would make sure the parents whose responsibility they are , to be also brought up or taken to task then, till 16 or 18 whatever the case may be , its parents or guardians responsibility .. so why not get them also then

        Yeah if a adult is doing this to a 12 year old it is a CRIME , consentual or non consentual.. I agree but what i am saying is WHY have such a scenaria where things like this might happen.. EDUCATION

        When i was 12 Oh my god I dont even know what i use to think at that time but definitely GIRLS were not on the list , playing with them might be but experimenting etc no ways ..

        where is that innocense going and we are making it more worse… They dont have any such law here in uk .. have the kids in india gone so far ahead that they have surpassed the western influence also …

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      • @Bhagwad :- I am elder to you matey, so i am talking of my time. obviously you guys were naughtier then i was πŸ™‚ he he he

        Girls were on list but not like this if you know what i mean..

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  5. Section 3 of the bill clearly states the limitation of this bill, this bill applies only when there is consensual sexual act. I definitely agree that the acts of kids out of curiosity should not be treated as criminal activity. What if one of the two kids involved blames the other just to get out of the trouble and his/her parent drags the other kid to court!

    So, I support the bill. I do not see how the adult forcing a kid in to sexual act /one kid forcing another falls under this bill!

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  6. Thanks for clarifying, IHM. I only read those headlines and was totally zapped. What you say makes so much sense. I wish our media reported with half your clarity!

    Much as one would prefer kids to wait until they can understand the implications, there will always be a few who end up “exploring”. Doesn’t make sense to criminalize them. Adult-child sex, as you say, is wholly different, and the adult in question needs to be punished severely, regardless of what the child said/did not say to it.

    Me – Absolutely agree Aparna.

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    • Me – I am sure the teacher couldn’t possibly have been in the room AD!!
      And can we possibly treat these children like criminals?
      This should also be an eye opener for those parents who believe that children (particularly Indian children) know nothing about sex. Children know more than parents like to believe and instead of living in denial, I would say, they should take the responsibility of guiding and communicating with the children.

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  7. Well, I’d say we needn’t get so aghast as evident from some of the comments. 12 year is the cut-off age, if you come downwards from the 18 yr old ‘adult’. As you said IHM, a 20 yr old indulging in sexual behaviour with a 15 yr old is ‘criminal’, there mustn’t be much whoa whoa whoa about a couple of 17 year olds having some fun they dont fully understand. The bill seeks to view the matter in that angle, which I’d say is a step in the right direction.

    me – I agree Scorpiogenius.

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  8. I got this blog post update when I was online yesterday, in my inbox. I started reading the heading of your post. A friend was online on chat and my concentration wavered. My daughter sat beside me and started to read it. She asked “Who wrote this article?”. I never realized she was reading it, so in shock I closed the browser. Because, I was so stunned with the headline and was yet to understand it’s meaning! Now that I have read your post, it makes a lot more sense! But like every other law anywhere, I am sure people will find innovative ways to use it to their advantage. Finding loopholes in such a bill can be easy. I was wondering if parents actually take 12 yr olds to court for this? Shouldn’t it be explained in sex education classes and obviously handled with care by parents amongst themselves!

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    • According to the same news, it seems they do and mostly the Juvenile Courts treat them mildly (that’s what it says). But is it right to empower adults to fill children with guilt and shame for something they don’t understand the complexities of?. And what if one set of the parents is more powerful and exploits the situation? Or uses it to blackmail not just the child but the parents also?

      I think it would help to provide the children with safety from being declared criminals at an age when they are not considered mature enough for most other things they do (even if they want to). They have no rights that adults have either.

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  9. Oh my gosh. Twelve year olds for God sake? I am with anyone who still believes in a ‘childhood’. It’s high time such supposedly ‘juvenile criminals’ are told they are kids and treated that way. If they indeed are criminals then the world around them is a criminal of a far higher degree.

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  10. I was hoping that you would come up with this post and how beautifully you made everything clear …. why the media is not as clear in interpretations ???

    ‘liked’ many comments already posted and there is nothing new i would like to add . Just that Deboshree is concerned … the law will protect the ‘childhood’ of an unsuspecting child and not criminalize her/him . Parents need to be more educated and realistic in their approach for sure.

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  11. This is actually a problematic situation. I would say that there is hardly any innocence left in kids, generally. For example my 14 year old sister knows everything regarding sex. When I was 14, I didn’t really know. When I hit puberty, my mom showed images regarding menstruation from a wonderfully illustrated book called “Woman” but nothing about sex. The precocious kid that I was, I eventually found out. I checked out the entire book in which even sex positions where illustrated. But of course, I was very ignorant for a while. I didn’t even know women could feel pleasure.

    Anyway, all I would say is that kids these days are not really innocent. A 11 year old boy raped a 9 year old girl. This happened in a village. We can assume that, that boy was influenced by rape scenes etc. But violence and sex go hand in hand in everyregular Indian masala film. Kids are still quite exposed to it. Even urban kids. What if a 12 yr old kid “rapes” another 12 yr old kid? It may not be actual rape. But it could be anything violent. Its perfectly possible. And there is good chance that such things go unnoticed because even if, let’s say, a 12 year old girl gets “sexually abused” by a 12 year old boy, the girl might think this is how sex works. So, she may not realise that she has been victimised.

    Anyway, your post provokes me to write something.

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    • Not knowing about sex should not be seen as ‘innocence’, it is ignorance. Kids know a lot about sex at ages 10 and 11 (Linked it in the post called ‘Sex Education is not Blue Films) but they would be ‘innocent’ if they have been allowed to communicate their curiosity regarding sex, because there is no feeling of guilt and they do not think of sex as something dirty or sinful. They also know that there are cultural, moral, social implications and responsibilities. They can make wise choices once they are old enough and till then they can fearlessly ask for more information and opinions.

      About violence by small children – this Bill talks clearly about consensual activity between children and violence remains a crime always anyway. Just like small children can be tried for murder, they can be tried for violence here. In the end it is essential that matured and non judgmental communication is not denied to them.

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  12. Nina Nayak, a person who has been in child protection and on the Juvenile Justice Board is also quoted in one related article. I respect Nina. Like she says, children who might have been pulled up for exploration are not treated like criminals. The people on the JJ Board (which is where this case would go, if there is one) are people who work with children and have experience in a lot of tough cases.

    Linking back to a comment on one of your previous posts on women and taking law too far, this is what happens when laws are abused. There’s more regulation to straighten possible abuse until everything is legislated. Mindset change in parents is what is needed and I would have preferred for sex education to be mandated in schools. I had it in a convent school, beautifully handled by a nun and we got the facts in a responsible way.

    Imagine if this law were to be abused? Would we then say (like so many commenters did in the prev post) that ‘yeah, there will be some abuse, all laws are abused!’?

    Am not for this provision, I want more – mindset change by mandating sex education. Much better for prevention, this is still only after the fact. And which 12 year old knows how far to go and what is okay and what is not? If they know their minds enough to engage in consensual non-penetrative sex, then why not a. allow them to vote; and b. allow them to have penetrative sex?! I find this totally ridiculous, esp. in our cultural context and ground realities.

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    • But Sangitha what provision do you object to? Should 12 year olds be taken to JJ Board, when we don’t even educate them about sex?

      //If they know their minds enough to engage in consensual non-penetrative sex, then why not a. allow them to vote//

      – But the purpose of decriminalizing is to acknowledge they do not know their minds.

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      • What about eve teasing? If this is okay, then someone rubbing against someone else on the bus is also okay, right?

        Me – Sangitha, that’s like saying is consensual sex between two adults is not a crime, then ‘eve teasing’ is also not a crime.

        How does one prove it was consensual? So it’s okay to take a 12 year old’s word for whether it was consensual or not? And why stop then at non-penetrative sex?

        Me – Do take a look at Rakesh’s comment.
        If two 14 year olds are found kissing – do we allow them to be treated like criminals? Is it not better for the parents to deal with this? A lot of parents would not want even the teachers to deal with this, who can understand and explain to the children best? The parents or ‘the authorities’?

        There is an age for everything. And if parents are going off half-cocked about sexual exploration then that needs to be addressed. I don’t believe this encourages people to have sex but I do believe that things like this have too many nuances to be legislated. It’s got to be case by case.

        Me – If you read my post ‘Sex Ed is not Blue Films‘ you’d see the authorities seem to think it is. I would not want 12 year olds to be taught about ‘rights and wrongs’ by such moralising, semi strangers. Such experiences can leave permanent scars on a child’s psyche.

        Let’s also look at this outside our middle class, educated circles and see what impact something like this can have on people whose mothers/parents are already not empowered.

        Me – Nothing will change. Most parents today instinctively handle such situations on their own and they will continue to do so in future also, I feel.

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      • Can’t reply to your replies (!), so am writing here.

        I worry more about what this closes off to children of parents who are not empowered, who are away at work and children who are not able to say that it was not consensual. Kissing has been happening for time immemorial and I don’t believe that a huge population has been criminalized today for sexual exploration. It will be treated like it always was and in any case, if any of my kids is kissing someone in the open, I would worry about their safety in our society. The girl will immediately be labeled fast and be fair game in our screwed up society. PDA is not something that is appropriate in India – we have a ways to go. Also I have seen what happens in remand homes (sexual exploration is not a word one can use for that) and this Board would be better off working on much more pressing issues with children who have been criminalized already!

        Guess we agree to disagree then! πŸ˜€

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  13. The change that the Commission is seeking is only to Decriminalise non-penetrative sex between teens. Thats it. However, the spin that the media and articles put on this is crazy. And because of the fact that a lot of people do not actually read and understand the essence of the change being requested, it turns into a silly national debate about culture and western influences and what not.

    What is simple is:

    Say two 13 year kids – (boys or girls) are kissing each other, Should this be reported to the police and should the children be treated as criminals?

    I guess, bullet points would simplify it further:

    1. 18 year old rapes 14 year old without consent – CALL POLICE
    2. 18 year old has sex / kisses 14 year old with consent – CALL POLICE
    3. 14 year old rapes 14 year old without consent – CALL POLICE
    4. 14 year old kisses 14 year old with consent – Call Parents Not Police

    Isn’t this simple enough? What is the hue and cry in this? Why would you want to call the police in case 4?

    I cannot understand what Raaj Mangal means when he says “In the name of decriminalising, you can`t keep sexual acts between children out of the notice of the authorities”.

    Honestly, I don’t think Parents should be responsible for their children and not Authorities.

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    • Exactly!!! You summed it so simply!

      1. 18 year old rapes 14 year old without consent – CALL POLICE
      2. 18 year old has sex / kisses 14 year old with consent – CALL POLICE
      3. 14 year old rapes 14 year old without consent – CALL POLICE
      4. 14 year old kisses 14 year old with consent – Call Parents Not Police

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    • Till Rakesh explained it, so lucidly with his bullet points I had not even understood the issue!! In these matters, I belong to another generation and we are admittedly less bright.

      Thanks Rakesh.

      I am simply unable to comment on this issue. I am feeling embarrassed and uncomfortable even talking about it .

      Till the age of 5 or 6 I remember we were just kids. Not boys or girls. We mixed freely. All I knew was that boys wore pants and girls wore frocks that we peed differently!

      When I was 12, I remember we boys were too shy to even talk to a girl, leave along petting/kissing. Is this what is meant by “non penetrative sex”?

      Beyond this we did not even know anything to even consider doing it at all!
      I was perhaps 14 or 15 when the first hints of what the sex act is was brought home to me and we initially didn’t believe that this was normal.
      It took time to sink in and I remember being acutely uncomfortable thinking about what our parents have done to bring us into this world!

      Contrast that with what I am now hearing about 12 year olds today!
      This debate on when to call the police and when to call the parents would have been simply unthinkable during our earlier years.
      I guess the world is moving on and I am stuck!

      I guess I will be wary of 12 year olds henceforth.

      I am also wondering if I should curb my urge to pinch the cheeks of a chubby child.
      At what age of the child does this stop being an affectionate act and become molestation?

      Confused.
      GV

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      • The problem is all children are not unaware of these things. Those who learn first are quick to teach others, there is some disbelief, but also a lot of natural curiosity. My kids at 10 and 11 had come and asked me in horror if what they were told by a friend could ever possibly be true. I remember being shocked… I have blogged about my experience, please do take a look here, I would like to know what you think. Do parents really have much choice here? The irony was that the mother of this child had no idea how much their daughter knew, or how she learnt it. She chose not to know what went on her in her child’s life.

        https://indianhomemaker.wordpress.com/2009/04/19/sex-education-has-nothing-to-do-with-blue-films/

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      • Thanks for the link to this old post of yours.
        I read it in full along with all the comments.

        I must compliment you on the boldness, tact and confidence with which you tackled this ticklish issue.

        I belong to another generation where talking about this subject could be done only in hushed whispers.
        I could never imagine asking my parents for information on this subject.
        Books were of course available but they had to be read on the sly.

        I remember back in the late fifties or early sixties,when I had just crossed the age of 10, I asked my Grandad the meaning of the word “romance” which I had encountered for the first time.
        He hummed and hawed and deflected the question.

        A few years later, on another occasion, when we visited a modern farm, the owner was telling us proudly about his cows, bull, chickens etc. Several times he used the word “crossed” (for “mated”) when discussing breeding. I remember my younger brother (not yet 10 years old) asking my father the meaning of the word “crossed”. The result was an uncomfortable silence and my father pretended not to have heard the question. I was older and understood of course and bailed out my father by deftly changing the subject.

        The message was clear. These subjects were taboo. I later educated myself by looking up dictionaries, and exchanging info from peers and learned, unlearned, and relearned as I grew older.

        After my marriage in 1975, I thought I would be better and more progressive in these matters and told myself I wouldn’t be afraid of this subject and would face my kids boldly if they ever asked me.

        The years passed. The kids grew up. They never asked me. I was spared from having to undergo this test. I am sure they learned the facts of life earlier than I or my wife did but I can never be sure when they did so.

        Now both of them are full adults and they protect me and my wife from “embarrassing scenes” on TV by discreetly changing channels!
        My son forbid me from watching a particular play in which he had acted in an award winning role. He told me the language was too crude for our generation!

        Let’s see. May be I will get another chance to test my bravery when the Grandchildren come along. Will I rise to the occasion? Or will I take the cowards way out by preserving this link and telling them to learn everything from IHM Aunty, who is an expert on this subject!

        Regards
        GV

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        • Here’s something from my favorite book and favorite character,

          When a child asks you something, answer him, for goodness’ sake. But don’t make a production of it. Children are children, but they can spot an evasion quicker than adults, and evasion simply muddles ’em.
          -Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird, Chapter 9, spoken by Atticus

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  14. http://she-lan-gig.blogspot.com/2011/02/sex-and-kids-knowledge-of-sex-in-indian.html

    I wrote a post regarding this {it’s pretty long}

    Me – Loved your post. Absolutely brilliant. About your concern in case young children are involved in violence or rape,

    Here’s how Rakesh explained what this Bill is trying to do,

    Say two 13 year kids – (boys or girls) are kissing each other, Should this be reported to the police and should the children be treated as criminals?

    I guess, bullet points would simplify it further:

    1. 18 year old rapes 14 year old without consent – CALL POLICE
    2. 18 year old has sex / kisses 14 year old with consent – CALL POLICE
    3. 14 year old rapes 14 year old without consent – CALL POLICE
    4. 14 year old kisses 14 year old with consent – Call Parents Not Police

    Point three makes it clear that a rape remains a rape, no matter what the age.

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    • May be, the new bill is not so disastrous after all. However, I still have doubts. Everything depends on the kids. The bill officially gives sexual freedom to kids. Of course they are not allowed to have sexual intercourse, but what if they do anyway. As a matter of fact, the typical middle-class urban kid is quite sexually free. The kids at my sister’s school date and maybe they also get intimate, who knows. What if two 13 year olds end up having unprotected sex and the girl gets pregnant? It perfectly possible. I think that non-penetrative sex should just mean kissing. Because one thing may lead to another. It’s possible. And what do they mean by non-penetrative sex? Just kissing and necking?

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      • Like you said a lot of 13 year olds do end up kissing and necking – should legal action be taken against them? Should this not be dealt with by the parents?

        Updated:
        About teenage girls getting pregnant, nothing will change unless they are given information (sex education) and means to protect themselves, and the responsibility should compulsorily be shared by the partner. I am not as worried about what the society feels, but it is not healthy for a 13 year old to be pregnant. I am sure it can be terribly traumatic – maybe even (like you said in your post) suicidal. Should they on top of all this, also be treated like criminal for having sex? This is what this Bill might and should prevent.

        I don’t understand why would any family want the police to interfere in this, when we don’t want the law to intervene where it should, like Domestic Violence?

        Like

      • I don’t think the Bill gives sexual freedom to kids. It gives freedom to kids from harrassment and interrogation and hauling up before strange and frightening shaming authorities, for sexual experimentation.

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      • I think the problem I’m seeing (judging from the comments about the article) people aren’t comfortable with the idea of teens being sexually activity. I get that, we want teens to be innocent. But I feel we have to face reality, there will be teens who will engage in sexual activity. Turning blind eye to it helps no one.

        I’m seeing a lot of similarities between American and Indian cultures, both cultures expose teens to sex, but don’t want to invest in sex education or talk to their children about it (hence, the main reason why in the US we have a high teen pregnancy rate).

        I wish people would stop saying “oh this bill is letting teens have sex” stopping them from having sex won’t solve this. And as I said above, treating them like their criminals really won’t solve anything.

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  15. Maybe the law won’t treat her as a criminal but her family may. And this actually inspires me to write another post. Thanks to you, the writer in me is having field day.

    me – Do write another post. Loved the last one too. Not just the family, even the society and every else will treat her like she did it all alone – no one holds the male partner responsible in such cases. Like you said, our society is okay with, “Boys get all the fun and girls get all the pain”.

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  16. Thanks for writing this. I didn’t even know teens cuddling with each other in India was criminal. That would mean that I should not be letting my kids date till they’re 18 for fear that they may indulge in criminal cuddling. I’m interested in the outcome of this so I can make sure that my kids don’t end up in Court for kissing their dates.

    Me – Indian parents don’t ‘believe in’ their kids dating or even talking to the ‘opposite sex’. Many parents hope that criminalizing such activity would (continue to) ensure that such activity does not take place. One of the comments on the news article suggested that they were fine with 12 year olds getting married but not with decriminalizing kissing by kids.

    I wonder if the children here are encouraged to talk about their feelings, their discomfort or doubts about a million things teenagers worry about…

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  17. http://she-lan-gig.blogspot.com/2011/02/pre-marital-intimacy-and-average-indian.html

    Whew! This is long too. I can go on and on about sex.

    me – Read your post and I don’ think this Bill will make any difference to anything anywhere. This Bill will simply prevent some children from being treated like criminals. The Indian mind set will change only when marriage stops being the only goal in a daughter’s life. As of now her ‘honor and virtue’ is precious, because she can’t get a suitable husband without these. The husband generally doesn’t need virtue or honor to ‘settle down’ in life, so most parents can afford to be understanding about his interest in the ‘opposite sex’.

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  18. I agree IHM. Parents and Schools OUGHT to teach kids at a younger age. My school taught me at age 15 and my parents (mum!) got comfortable talking about it only once I came to college. But I knew from my peer group at age 12 and I didn’t understand much. Thankfully, nothing happened to me. But talking about it is still taboo everywhere. That’s what is causing these disturbing problems.
    We really have to come out of the closet as a society and face these issues.

    Like

  19. My first reaction to the title was : WTF !!!!

    And as i read , i realized i gave a wrong reaction. Am not yet comfortable imagining 12 year old to know and understand it all but the times have made this important that we teach the kids all about it and keep them safe from others.

    I just hope the kids do not find any consenting partner or a chance to try it ! Well i guess thats where the parents have to step in and make sure they keep the kids informed , safe and out of trouble .

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  20. Hi, I have great respect for Indian home maker (we exchanged some messages 1-2 years back if she still remembers).

    Me – Yes I do remember.

    Still, I would like to point out why is it that boys/ men are always portrayed in a bad light? The original post here mentioned the social stigma attached to girls – do we really think that society respects guys who indulge in pre-marital sex, for example? I would think my neighbour looks down on me as much as he would on my sister if we were indulging into any such thing.

    me – Girls often take their own lives if they are pregnant before they are married, girls are also killed for the same (honor killing). A boy might be looked down upon, but he generally is spared the trauma a girl faces in such cases.

    One follow up comment also mentioned “so a married young child can be abused by her husband” – it is implicitly assumed that it is the husband abusing the girl child. It is always about the girl child.

    Me – I have included in this post, a link to a post about a 12 year old girl who was married to an old man. Another 12 year old died while in labour. A much larger number is not allowed to be born. I wish there was a little more about the girl child in our society.

    Boys are taught from the beginning to sacrifice themselves for women (in all shapes and sizes – mother, sister, wife, daughter, neighbour, teacher, colleague, even a stranger on the road)

    Me – Boys are taught to give up their personal choices, as in who they love or marry and also what careers they choose, because they must support their families. They are taught to sacrifice for their parents. And I have seen they are encouraged to put their birth families before their life partners. Yes that is not right, they have as much right to work to save their marriages as their sisters do.

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  21. its a draft , i do not think Congress will dare to touch social change.
    have not read the full draft, as to be honest i ignored that as i know it is just time pass Government will not change anything.

    First we need to start Sex Education in schools, i agree we get our sex education through blue films, rape scene , etc.

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  22. I can see some of the dicey scenarios this could throw up – for example, if two 12 year olds are found to be engaging in some sexual activity and one claims that the other is has been forcing him/her – then what is the right approach to take. That said and done, I’m in support of this law, though I feel it needs to me drafted with much more clarity, and communicated very carefully so that it sends that right message.

    I’m rather surprised that so many commenters here think that 12 year olds have no idea about sex. My first ever boyfriend was when I was 14 (so was he). And at that time, about one-third of our class had a boyfriend/girlfriend. We engaged in some kissing and some fondling. As did almost everyone else in that class who had a boyfriend/girlfriend. And this was in a school in a small city in Andhra Pradesh in 1999.

    If this was the scenario in small town India over 10 years ago, I think the chances of 12 year olds engaging in sexual activity today are very high. And there is no way they can be labeled criminal for this!

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  23. You make so much sense, IHM. The bill actually makes it much more clear, and is definitely in sync with the times.

    The reason we have such an uproar is that we as a society like to believe that our teens are ‘pure’ and ‘innocent’.. And that such stuff does not happen. Instead, if we tried talking to our children, educating them about sex, the curiosity that leads to such ‘exploration’ would reduce.

    Like

  24. You know, for a very “moral”( sex-does-not-happen-here) society, we are very sex-obsessed! Every measure it seen as corrupting “morals” or a “Western influence”, of course with lascivious detail on how it could lead to “wrong” sex ( which I guess is fine if spent under the aegis of marriage, regardless of incompatibility).

    Like

  25. Pingback: Emotion of love and affection compelled the convict. ‘Love not a crime’, says Delhi Court. « The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

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