Proscribing adolescent sex by law

If I recall correctly, it was Erskin May who had said something like that no law could be enforced that the majority is unwilling to obey.

To some extent, the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Bill 2011, passed by the Indian Parliament, falls into this category. The Bill seeks to make even consensual sexual contact with a girl under 18 a criminal offence. This law is proposed to be enforced when 30 per cent of the girls in India aged between 15 and 19 are married off. According to a report of a survey conducted by UNICEF between 2000-2010, 22 to 24 per cent of women in India became mothers before attaining adulthood. About eight per cent of the adolescents had sex before the age of 15.

The law is proposing to proscribe all this. How effectively this can be done is a moot question. However, the more serious implication of the law is that it seeks to make sex between consenting adolescents a crime. Young boys could be hauled up for having a consensual sex with their girl friends. This can often turn into police officials terrorizing boys dating or even talking to a girl, given the nature of law enforcement authorities in the country. The girl too could be under risk under such situations.  It could also lead to corruption rather than protection of girls, as the punishment could be jail for three years or more. Even eve teasing that could be termed as sexual harassment and would attract up to three years of jail.

The Bill seeks to make sexual offences against girls by those in authority an aggravated crime attracting longer terms of imprisonment. This is a welcome measure. The law should also discriminate between those committing organised crimes against girls or men aged above 21 exploiting girls and consensual teen age or adolescent sex. Actions resulting from the love or even lust by adolescents should not be penalised. What are needed here is guidance and sex education and not a law proscribing sex.

Details of the Bill

 

One thought on “Proscribing adolescent sex by law

Leave a Reply