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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”

DIDI DON’T DO

These days can’t open a newspaper without stumbling upon some news about the West Bengal CM Mamta Banerjee  or Didi as she’s called by her party members and made popular by the media. The everyday dicktats  that have been pouring out of her office could be comical at best if they did not imply the serious undertone. I’m sure the people of Bengal feel it too. They got rid of decades of bad governance by a corrupt Communist government only to be replaced by a dictator in the garb of a democrat.

First the English dailies banned from public libraries, then a professor arrested for creating and circulating a cartoon and now the latest commandment-TMC members shall not mingle with CPM cadres at any personal level.(This could make for an interesting bollywood movie plot. Girl from CPM, boy from TMC. Loads of over the top drama, elopement to found their own party and maybe an item number thrown in for good measure and please don’t ask me to name a potential item girl because at present only one name is doing the rounds in my brain ;)).

The path Didi is treading would give Stalin a run for his money. Whatever the people of Bengal had hoped for and they did hope high, this wasn’t what they bargained for.

I do sympathize with Didi though. She won the elections with the people of her state rooting for her, for the dreams that she would turn to reality. She had and still has the opportunity AND the power to make it work for her and for the people of her state. She could’ve silenced her critics (and cartoonists) with her work and dedication, instead she chose to go with brute force. The people are protesting already and she seems unrelenting. Hope she gets herself a set of advisors with a better sense of administration AND humor and not just a bunch of sycophants.

It’s been rightly said-“with great power comes great responsibility”. The people have placed that power in her hands and the onus to handle it with responsibility now lies with her. The courageous leader that she is , I hope she doesn’t let her people down.