Well, a new bill has been introduced by the Ministry of Women and Child Development of India, which will allow your twelve year old child to legally have non-penetrative sex with children of their own age group. If your child's age falls between 12-14 years, he/she can have a 'sexual exploration partner', within an age difference of 2 years. If the child is 14-16 years young, the proposed age difference between the two partners is 3 years. Some intellectuals are supporting the bill. One of them even claims - "if two 12-year-olds get physical and if one child's parent complains, the other can be pulled up. Such minor things should be decriminalised." Minor things? You call it minor but just think what the parents go through when such an incident occurs.
The age of consent in the USA is between 16 and 18 years, depending on the state they live in. In England it is 16. Spain has one of the lowest ages of consent, at 13 years. India, the-wanna-be-superpower, wishes to leave them behind. And what is the price we have to pay?
If the government doesn't remember, there is a difference between the west and India. No matter how much they claim it to be, India is not a rich man's country. 70% of India's population still doesn't contribute to India's GDP but inflation reaches them. India has the world's richest and the world's poorest people, and the gap between them is ever widening. India still has the highest malnutrition. A rich man's son who pretends to be a dude in his school may understand these laws. Think about the confusion it will create amongst the children on street, children at work and children in institutional care who are reported with the highest incidence of sexual assault?
Do you know, 53.22% children in India face one or more forms of sexual abuse before they are 16, of which 21.90% reported facing severe forms of sexual abuse? Most of them are children living on streets. Think of the trauma and insecurity these children go through?
Twelve years? Twelve? In spite of knowing the mind and maturity of a child of this age, twelve is not an age to give consent, be it for penetrative or non-penetrative sex! In the name of decriminalisation, you can't keep sexual acts between children from the notice of the authorities. It will be hard to distinguish between an act involving penetration and one that did not. Think of the confusion it will create in the minds of investigators. I strongly condemn this bill. I protest!
We are not prepared for such a tremendous change. If the government wants gives the kids this level of exposure and responsibility, it must teach them how to handle it. This should be the road ahead for the India-
- Reduce the gap between the rich and poor. Then at least this bill will make sense to the rest 70% of our country.
- Introduce sex education at a younger age. Ensure that kids know the difference between good and bad ‘touching’.
- Establish a robust system where kids and their parents can complain and still keep their anonymity. Establish newer courts to handle such cases.
- Inspire parents to be more open to their kids. Parents must read this article to know what I mean.
- Punish the criminals, for god's sake. Don't legitimise crime!
India has a long way to go. I am optimistic about the capabilities of our next generation. We can't afford to jeopardise their mental and physical growth. We have to protect them. Only then we will be able to protect the future of the nation we so dearly call ours.