The move to retain the age of consent of consensual sex at 18 years has evoked mixed reactions. Will it be the step forward in curtailing crimes against women?
The fatal Delhi gang rape inci dent shook the very conscience of the nation and resulted in citizens demanding a stringent anti-rape law to curb the atrocities against women. The government formed a committee, which was lead by former Chief Justice J.S. Verma, to suggest amendments to the existing law. In the recent past, as a part of the anti-rape bill, the Centre proposed to lower the age of consensual sex from 18 to 16 and incurred the wrath of the opposition and many activists, who reckoned that lowering the age might result in teenagers indulging in pre-marital sex, especially since women have to be 18 years old to get married. The anti-rape bill was introduced on Tuesday, which retained the age of consent of consensual sex as 18.
Many in the city share their opinions on how far playing with the age of consensual sex, will help to curtail crimes against women. Nirmala Kotravai, founder of Movement Against Sexual Exploitation and Sexism (MASES) reckons that decision of setting a legal age for consensual sex will not contribute towards the safety of women. “The bill is aimed at protecting women and children women and childre below the age of 18 from being exploited, but what about exploitation above the age of 18? How much are we sure about women not being raped after 18? It gives room for someone to take advantage quot ing the age of consensus,“ she points out. Actress Khushboo wonders how this move can reduce rape, but contested the claim that a reduction of legal age to 16 could send across a wrong message to youngsters. Khushboo says, “In India, rape knows no age bar. A woman as old as 45 also is raped in some corner of the country . How will reducing or increasing the age bar for consensual sex make a real difference.“ Clearly unhappy at the earlier decision to change the age for consensual sex to 16, she says, “If a person gets to vote at the age of 18, so everything else should start at that,“ she says.
On the other hand, Kirthi Jayakumar, a lawyer (human rights and gender-based violence) argues that this law is idealist but impractical, adding that 16 years would be a more realistic age for current times. “Yes, it is true that most people in India find even consensual sex before marriage unacceptable. But, it is also a fact that some boys and girls have sex before the age of 18. Some advocate that the age of consent be 16, which is more realistic, and some think 18 is ideal,“ she relates.
Changing the age of consensual sex to control crimes is a “ridiculous move“ exclaims Priyamani. “No great change can come about in two years. If the age for consensual sex is 16 and the legal marriageable age is 18, a two-year gap is not going to make much of a difference,“ she remarks, in conclusion.
Thanks: Deccan Chronicle.