Who benefits from denying sex education to citizens, finding excuses for forced sex but criminalizing consensual teenage sex?
NEW DELHI: The Union Cabinet on Thursday cleared a Bill that seeks to raise the age of legal sex from 16 to 18, provoking sharp criticism from child rights activists, who called it a regressive step.
The Protection of Children against Sexual Offences Bill, 2011, says sex under the age of 18 – even if consensual – would be deemed as statutory rape and an offence that would be tried under the Juvenile Justice Act carrying a maximum punishment of three years imprisonment.
I think the bill is an attempt to protect teenagers from child abuse. I have blogged about a 15 year old whose family was harassed by the police. The family suspected that the teenager had been ‘kidnapped’ by a male relative. The police insisted that the victim ‘looked’ more than 15 because then she would no longer be seen as a ‘minor’ (below the age of consent) and then ‘statuary rape‘ (sex with minor) could be seen as ‘consensual sex’. Under this new rule, the police would find it difficult to shirk their responsibility, because even if the victim was not 15, she would still be seen as below the age of consent, and they would be required to take action.
So it could benefit teenagers who have been abused by older men – unless that teenager is married to the rapist. I think any sex with a teenager less than 18 should be treated as a crime – but only if the partner is more than three years older than the woman. Even if she is married to the rapist.
But this bill also sees two sixteen year olds having sex as a crime. While most parents would rather their kids did not have sex until they were married to the partner or were atleast adults, would they want the government to have the power to punish their teenage children for having consensual sex with someone around their own age, a class mate, a friend, basically two young people?
Should the parents then lose the power to say, “police had no business punishing youngsters who were within the confines of four walls. What the police did in fact amounted to violation of their privacy” [Link: Obscene behavior]
Many parents might feel that their child would never do that, but premarital and teenage sex is more common than most Indians seem to realise. I blogged about how much more children know about sex than parents realise here – and how parents have often no idea about it.
So if these children were too scared to say anything to their parents, if they were given no sex education and no information and guidance, and if they do end up having sex – should they be seen as criminals? When they are not old enough to have a driving license, drink or vote, when they are not old enough to be given sex education – they can be seen as old enough to be jailed for a consensual sexual activity?
And who would benefit the most.
It would become easier for Indian police and sexual offenders to harass unmarried, young couples, ‘Five drunken young men from a nearby farming village accosted a couple…, beating the young man and gang-raping the woman.’
We will see more cases like Constable Sunil More who “threatened to book them for indecent acts and demanded Rs 5,000. While the boy was sent off to arrange the money, Sunil More allegedly raped the girl.”
If these couples try to report they would not only face social stigma, they would also be accused of committing the crime of having consensual sex.
Some educational institutions will find more reasons to keep teenagers under surveillance.
Neighborhood gossips will not just be gossiping, they will have the power to report a crime or blackmail a teenager, sometimes into submitting to sexual abuse.
Edited to add: Such cases would become more common but the victims would not dare to report – because now they would be seen as criminals.
Price of a kiss goodbye: Rs 1,200 and police harassment
Kuber Sarup hugged, pecked a girl on the cheek while saying bye. Outraged by his ‘indecent act’, cops dragged him to police station, forced him to pay up (a lecture on Indian values was free)
“The cops then gave me two options: I could either pay the deposit and appear in court the next day, or spend the night in the lock-up and be produced at court the next day,” he said. “Not wanting to spend the night behind bars, I had no option but to cough up the amount.”
‘We have footage!’
The argument took an interesting turn when the cops told Sarup that they had CCTV footage to prove that he had outraged public modesty. Sarup’s response, however, threw them off guard. Relieved that the footage could help him prove his innocence, Sarup asked to be shown the footage. Cops did a quick U-turn, saying that he was an ordinary citizen who was not privy to such confidential footage.
Emotion of love and affection compelled the convict. ‘Love not a crime’, says Delhi Court.
The Powers of the Protectors.
“Bill seeks to let 12 year olds have non penetrative sex. Does it really?
It’s child abuse not an ‘affair’.
Parents should choose the boy for a girl aged below 21, as it is they who bear the brunt of an unsuccessful marriage – Karnataka HC
Romanticizing innocence, chastity and related taboos for women.
Sexual abuse victim thrown out of school for being a bad influence on other students.
Pregnant at fifteen? No moral issues. Unmarried and pregnant at fifteen. Degeneration of society.
Sex Eduction has nothing to do with blue films.