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Sex At Twelve?

Sex At Twelve?

February 02, 2011

Mother, I had sex. And the government allowed me to do so.

I want to ask one question to all parents. Can you allow your twelve year old son or daughter to have sex? Non-penetrative sex for that matter. No matter how much of an open society you belong to, I'm sure my question disgusts you.

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.

21 Comments

  • Sourav Roy
    By
    Sourav Roy
    03.02.11 11:24 PM
    @ Naveen

    Thanks for your support. I'm glad you read and could connect with what this article stood for.
  • Vikram
    By
    Vikram
    03.02.11 10:30 PM
    @Rekha

    Since your a lawyer, please enlighten us on,

    1. how strong our laws are in protecting children ? Can they currently protect children from being criminalized ?

    2. If you have read the bill (I assume you have), you would notice that the children ONLY have been decriminalized. Would you prefer to treat 14 years and younger children as criminals or under minor offences ? Especially when they are not in the age to think for themselves.

    3. 12 year olds will do what they do ( Study & enjoy their childhood, innocence) However at the rare exception that two 12 year olds do other things, they will be treated as criminals instead of the protection and guidance they need, They will be sent to juvenile homes. With the bill they can not.

    It does not give them the right to do, just the right not to be criminalized.

    Do you understand ?

    @everyone else

    If you dont read what the bill is and do not understand how the law works, Your nothing but clueless and here to vent out your frustrations. The future of your children is in that bill so atleast take time to read it by clause.
  • Rekha
    By
    Rekha
    03.02.11 06:28 PM
    @ Vikram

    What is it that you are trying to prove? That you understand the bill and Naveen and the author don't!

    I don't understand how you can try to associate or even think of 12 year olds indulged in any form of sexual act. 12 year olds?

    I, being a lawyer myself, agree that decriminalise is not the same as legalise. But on a practical note do you really understand what the difference is? In the former case, you are not stopped from doing something and in the latter, you are allowed to do it.

    12 year olds should do what they are supposed to do, Study & enjoy their childhood, innocence. And not indulge sex of any form. I am a mother myself, and I know what I say. If this bill had said- "children of age 12 can fall in love, and that's decriminalised", I'd have agreed. But where does the idea of 'sex' come from for kids of such tender age?

    I strongly recommend you think from a parent's perspective. Or at-least acknowledge the tenderness and immaturity of a 12 year old. It is the liberal and western attitude of people like you that has spoilt our culture.

    I protest this bill. No matter how much you (or anyone else for that sake) tries to justify it.
  • confused momo
    By
    confused momo
    03.02.11 04:36 PM
    @Vikram: Dude,get off your "as thin as a macaroni" stand on this issue.Engaging in a discussion just coz for d sake of it is not appreciable nd to mention, u score extra brownie points with ur adamant stand on ur not so good understandin of this law.Goin on by exact dictionary meaning of words..your whole sermon will reduce to a spam.
    Had you used your time ,space,resource and adamancy for the other way round ..atleast u cud hav added voice for a legitimiate concern.Nevertheless its better late than never.Grab ur oppurtunity NOW :)
    P.S:introspect on ur iotic understnding of subject.and pls pls pls kindly dnt drag this any further.i hav sooo sooo much better things to do .
    Regards
  • Vikram
    By
    Vikram
    03.02.11 04:22 PM
    @Naveen

    1. consensual non-penetrative sex only decriminalized between two children of 12-14 years of age

    2. Decriminalized is nothing similar to legitimization

    3. If a person records such a thing , you would want to punish children for it instead of the person ? illogical

    Like I say understand the bill first before you have an opinion on it

    To conclude the age of consent was always 16 years, age of non penetrative sex is still 12 years. News channels sensationalized false information
  • Naveen
    By
    Naveen
    03.02.11 12:06 PM
    @ Sourav

    I believe your article was the only mass protest on Internet against this bill. Thankfully, the draft of this bill has been changed.

    Our minister even claimed that he had 'no idea' of this bill :D Ridiculous!

    That's the charm of being in a democracy!
  • Naveen
    By
    Naveen
    03.02.11 12:00 PM
    @ Sourav-

    Great article!

    @ Vikram-

    So, according to you, how do we Protect Children From Sexual Offences? "By the lowering the age of consensual non-penetrative sex !!", How will a 12 year old give Informed Consent? There is still no compulsory sex education in India yet!

    No food security or compulsory education for 12 year olds in this country, No protection from exploitation and Child labour. India has the largest population of working children in the world with over 111 million children struggling as child labourers. Now there will be legal sanction for their sexual exploitation also.

    According to you- "If a video of two kids exploring their sexuality with mutual consent is leaked on Internet, The bill clearly defines the age of a child to be less than 16 years and would be termed illegal under child pornography laws with updated severe punishments."

    So on what grounds will two kids' hidden video shot by an anonymous person fall into? The kids won't be accused since their act is 'decriminalised' if not 'legitimised'.

    At 12 years of age, the child, mind you, the child, is expected to study, play and enjoy the years of innocence. This imbecile proposal, if it becomes a law can, and will be misused. Instead of protecting the innocence of children, it will put them in grave danger. This proposal should unequivocally be rejected. Even in more liberal societies of the west, physical intimacy is frowned upon at such a tender age. Due to 'liberated' attitudes the West is experiencing population decline. if you feel I'm wrong, search the effect of STDs on fertility.

    Making legal this could lead spread of sex at the immature age which can hinder the growth of a children. Also, it will lead to spread of AIDS because at this age people might not have enough knowledge about this things. firstly, Government should prepare the ground for these acts like 'spreading Sex education among children' then take such drastic steps.

    Well, to conclude, the draft of the bill has been changed. The age of consensual sex will remain to be 16.
  • Vikram
    By
    Vikram
    03.02.11 10:57 AM
    Again, your making conclusions without understanding what the bill is.

    1. It only Decriminalizes the children in cause they engage in such an act.

    If your child took part in it and if the other parent was to complain, your child today would be termed a criminal and treated as one. Do you understand ?

    2. If a video of two kids exploring their sexuality with mutual consent is leaked on internet, The bill clearly defines the age of a child to be less than 16 years and would be termed illegal under child pornography laws with updated severe punishments

    Do you understand ?

    Our present laws are one of the weakest in the world for protecting children. Let not our blinded opinions and limited understanding of a bill prevent the right of protection for our children.

    Please explore the bill and ask any lawyer what it really means

    *Decriminalize is not the same as Legal.

    Example Sex between two homosexual mean was decriminalized. However such an union would hold no legal grounds
  • Sourav Roy
    By
    Sourav Roy
    03.02.11 12:57 AM
    @ Abhijit Sen

    Thank you:) Your support always meant a lot to me. I agree that such a bill in its practical sense won't matter, but we, as law abiding citizens can associate only with laws, rights, liabilities. Don't we?

    However, I have strong reasons to believe that with good laws in place, a lot can change. For example, in Singapore crime is minimized because of their strict laws (and its deployment). In India, hooligans and goons get away with crime because of our slow-moving, media-inspired judiciary.

    Such a video leaked over internet, will atleast have liabilities in absense of such bills. What else can we resort upon? We being people of a nation with a constitution in place (the best, they say...)
  • Abhijit Sen
    By
    Abhijit Sen
    03.02.11 12:31 AM
    Does not matters the bill being passed or held up it being some highlighting measures prevailed by the government officials and media off course to show some breaking news ..... though that being ridiculous .
    Anyways I am glad that yours objection has been sustained.

    Good Job bro
    Abhijit
  • Abhijit Sen
    By
    Abhijit Sen
    03.02.11 12:22 AM
    Kids who access internet - if they being smart enough the bills don't make any difference and for the one on the street they would probably never know about the bill as they are always ignorant from the media and the government is not going to explain them the bill being passed like announcing on the loud speaker moving around the street ... do you think so.
    And the video leaked over internet has nothing to do with the bill it being some nuisance value prevailing on the mind of culprit out of age bondage or any bills as such ....

    Regards
    Abhijit
  • Sourav Roy
    By
    Sourav Roy
    03.02.11 12:14 AM
    @ Shyam-

    Thanks for your comment. Kids of the age of 12 feel that everything their parents tell them is wrong. They go through a phase of emotional outburst. At this age of immaturity, removing liability from such immoral acts is unacceptable.

    Well, the good news is that these clause of the bill has possibly been removed. Read- http://www.mysinchew.com/node/52679
  • Sourav Roy
    By
    Sourav Roy
    03.02.11 12:07 AM
    @ Vikram-

    Indian society is not open enough. How many of us, at the age of 14 even knew about sex? We knew that we were not eligible or mature enough. we knew about the birds and bees stories.

    For kids who have access to internet and otherwise, patronising this bill (the way you are doing) will only encourage them to exploit their sexuality. They will tell each other- "Don't worry. We are eligible. I've read on internet." Street kids will have similar story, except instead of internet, their source of information will be their spoilt peer group. In either cases, parents will never be informed. So, your debate is out of question. Ask any set of parents on how much check and control they have on their kids activities and you will have your answer. Think about it.

    Secondly, although I didn't want to enter this topic. What if a video of two kids exploring their sexuality with mutual consent is leaked on internet? Who will be the one to blame? This bill? You? Or myself?

    What is the society we are looking at? I dream of an ideal nation. Such a society is something I will never agree upon!
  • shyam
    By
    shyam
    02.02.11 11:32 PM
    Hello Saurav
    "what man has done to mam" ; Wordsworth had said this in one of his poems and today i got reminded of the same !!!!!!
  • Vikram
    By
    Vikram
    02.02.11 10:27 PM
    Actually Sourav, your way off from understanding the bill.

    Here are some clarifications,

    When there are two consorting 12-14 year olds engaging in non penetrative sex, one of the parents can not take legal action against the other's child. Quite right since their own child is equally to blame

    Does it mean children of that age group can not be prevented from engaging in such acts ? Nope, as legal guardian of the child you have all rights within the law to prevent your child from taking part in it even IF your child wants to.

    This is a wonderful bill which is going to protect children from being exploited. I insist everyone should familiarize themselves with the bill before we jump to conclusions!
  • Sourav Roy
    By
    Sourav Roy
    02.02.11 07:50 PM
    @ Indian Home Maker-

    I agree that this bill will ensure that children are treated with leniency, but we need to acknowledge that government must push for ensuring sex education becomes a mandatory part of curriculum. Through TV programmes, it can motivate parents to be more open to their kids, as you had written in your article. Only then this bill will start making sense.

    @ Vikram-

    Well, you are partially right. what you claim is due to the confusion that sprouted up due to versions of the bill. Read this- http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Sexual-offences-bill-Govt-talks-of-2-versions/articleshow/7408775.cms
  • Sourav Roy
    By
    Sourav Roy
    02.02.11 07:18 PM
    @ Abhijit Sen-

    I must agree with your point of view, but you have missed an important point. I have written the article in purely Indian context. This kind of a bill will legitimise a lot of things. I have mentioned a series of steps that should be taken before this bill can be implemented. I protest this bill because it jeopardises the safety and security of children on street. The very fact that the word 'sex' is being associated with kids is disheartening. Isn't it?

    @ Amit Joshi-

    Thanks for your comment and support. I agree with your observation that society has not changed much, and that such dogmas existed (and still exist). But there have been social reformers (Raja Ram Mohan Roy, GK Gokhle, Swami Vivekananda, Syed Ahmed Khan...) who have brought in progressive changes in the society. We must move forward. I can't see what the government sees progressive in this bill.
  • Vikram
    By
    Vikram
    02.02.11 06:22 PM
    Please go through the bill again, you seem confused what it is.
  • Indian Homemaker
    By
    Indian Homemaker
    02.02.11 05:42 PM
    Sourav,I feel the Bill only stops the children from being treated like rapists and criminals, if they are found to be involved in such activity.

    Newspapers love to sensationalize such news. Firstly, we refuse to guide our children about sex because we fear sex education will encourage them to have sex, when actually that’s the only way to protect them from sexual predators. Most Indians learn about sex from vulgar C grade movies, through porn and through their peer group. Then we expect them to understand what’s right or wrong on their own.

    I feel the law should be very firm against abusers but children should not be treated like criminals. Most of the time, the children don’t even know the implications of their acts.

    The society should make sure the children can fearlessly tell the teachers, parents etc if they are uncomfortable with some adult’s behavior, if they fear they might be seen as criminals, will they ever dare to complain?.
  • Amit Joshi
    By
    Amit Joshi
    02.02.11 12:21 PM
    I absolutely agree with Sourav that this bill doesn't really make much sense. And I will also add to that as Abhijit said it won't really make any difference, if a child gonna get indulge in sexual act, penetrative or non penetrative they are neither gonna ask their parents before doing that and they also won't be mature enough to realize that whether law permits it or not. But other than that what amazes me is that girls getting married at very early age such as 12 was very common in India during 18th century to say 1950 and it's still practices at some backward areas. In some culture girls and boy didn't used to have sex at all while in other they used to. So this thing isn't entirely new for India is it??? But I guess although still it doesn't make it right but then I don't think that either bill gets passed or not it won't really make much of difference in ground reality.
  • Abhijit Sen
    By
    Abhijit Sen
    02.02.11 10:41 AM
    Impressive blog but being much of emotions rather than reality involved within it.

    In the beginning it mentions - "I want to ask one question to all parents. Can you allow your twelve year old son or daughter to have sex?" Is that a real question does the kids really bothers the consent of their parent to have sex!! May the age be 12 or 14 or more than 18 and the topic being related to India and in no case the kid would even bother to get the permission of his dad or mom - its all like chance n then dance. Probably it might seem bit arrogant, but if you are not being too impulsive about the culture n heritage of India but being practical making up a law to allow non - penetrative sex at 12 - its not a big deal when restricted with the consideration that being either both of the same age or whose ages are within two years of each other.
    Like as you considered the example of United States its horrible - the land where the kids being taught to keep discipline on emotions one u have as dad or mom today would change tomorrow and you need to accept the change of the new one being disciplined towards yours emotions and report says -
    An average of nearly four children die every day as a result of child abuse or neglect (1,760 in 2007) abused by the end of their 13th year in US....
    10,667 people in the US had made allegations of child sexual abuse between 1950 and 2002 against 4,392 priests (about 4% of all 109,694 priests who served during the time period covered by the study).
    So in terms of sex and abuses considered as crime India being far better than US as it still vales emotions and possess rich heritage and culture.

    So this law as discussed being not the case of molestation at all neither a hamper to the heritage or culture of India - "as the law as passed by Indian Government states it being sex amongst although teenagers", so clearly not a picture of molestation or abuse but rather mutual consent though that be not matured yet decisive. The constraint here non-penetrative if prevails being the considering factor to avoid crime. So its no where a crime anywhere if the law gets passed within the honorable Constitution of India, but rather would be a flexibility and broadening of mindset within the teenagers but still its hard to achieve in current scenario in India.

    Still the important point here is that there being lots of cultivating factor within the Nation of India which needs prominent attention from the politicians, the constitution and the citizens rather than passing these Child Sex Bills passed and capturing massive attentions.

    Regards
    Abhijit

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