CRIME ‘N LAW

Couldn’t help myself. I’m not a very political person but have been reading a lot about this in the newspapers and couldn’t ignore it no matter how hard I tried, so here goes.

This is about ‘Protection of Children from Sexual Offence Bill (2011)’. This bill has already been approved by the Cabinet and now has been sent to the Rajya Sabha  for the final debate. If passed it will become a Law. A law that makes sex below 18 years of age a punishable crime. And this law will be applicable to both, boys and girls. When it was first tabled it had a provision for consensual sexual activity between the ages of 16 and 18, but now that has been dropped, criminalizing teenage sex. The motive of this Law is supposedly to prevent sexual exploitation or abuse of minors. But come to think of it, will it really do that? I’m not an expert in Law nor do I understand much about law making. What I say here are my thoughts as a lay person who reads the daily newspaper.

This is the period of their lives when youngsters explore their sexuality and are curious about things that are natural. In this age of Internet, to think they are ignorant about sex ( it’s not just our eminent  MPs and MLAs who watch porn on mobiles/tabs) and thus need to be protected by such a law is foolish and ostrich like. Today children mature much earlier than we did in our times. Call it easy access, changing times or whatever. They are also capable of taking mature decisions with clear understanding of right and wrong.

What they really need is proper education, information and guidance about sex and related health problems. But whenever there is talk of introducing a proper sex education programme in the schools our lawmakers suddenly regress back to the middle ages. With this law in place the activities of the young will not stop but will simply move underground because it is difficult to forcefully stop something that’s natural and trying to do so will do nothing to solve the problem. Practiced under covers it may have adverse effect on the health of the individuals.

And , in our country where the ‘moral police’ thinks nothing of harassing adults, imagine them in the case of youngsters.( And here ,everyone-from the parents, to the neighbors, to relatives-can turn into moral police) The police will also get another set of targets to trouble or earn their ‘extra’ income from. We will then need a different kind of protection law for the children.

Also, more importantly, imagine being called a criminal for life just because they indulged in an act in the heat of the moment or out of curiosity.

In my opinion, this regressive law should not be passed as it is. The children must be protected from sexual abuse but the law also has to be mature and in tune with the times. Other countries too have similar laws and the law has provisions to differentiate between a normal act and an abuse. With this law our country will be just above the countries where sex is legal only within the boundaries of marriage.

Emphasis should be laid on imparting better information to the young so that they can take the right decision and act accordingly.

“Better to educate than to enforce”

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