By Ramesh Sethuraman
Bharath has traditions which are highly regarded and followed as social and personal ethics (Dharma). Our ancestors who built the global dictionary for sex called Kamasutra have also defined dharma for bachelorship (brahmacharya), marriage (vivaahaa) and post-marriage (Karpu).
Starting from Vedas to modern age books from west, everyone accept marriage and sex as two souls coming together and not seeing it as just 2 bodies quenching their thirst. Our ancestors have clearly defined what a legal relationship is and what an illicit one. Based on this, our current laws are also defined to a certain extent. In Bharath a sex before marriage is seen as unethical in the society. Similarly after marriage not being loyal and honest to the partner and having an extra marital affair is also seen as an offence and socially unethical.
Since independence, many governments have come and gone. They have done a detailed study and have confirmed that the minimum right age for women marriage is 18. (This also complies with the age standards set by several developed nations). This is primarily because the girls at the age of 18 attain the right level of physical, mental and emotional balance before they are ready to carry a child. Similarly a right or rather legal age for a man to get married is set at 21 as the person should have physical and mental strength to support his spouse and family. At the age of 18, a girl or a boy will possibly be at her high school so that she has the right knowledge to legally tackle social challenges. Hence the law has clearly defined the age for a major and a minor citizen.
The Group of Ministers of (GoM) of UPA government has agreed to bring down the age of consensual sex from 18 to 16 as part of the anti-rape bill. Many parents and responsible citizens of our country are seeing this as a move by the UPA govt with malicious intentions of destroying our nation’s tradition (Paramparya), ethics (dharma), integrity, discipline and family value system. There is an urgent need to see beyond what is put up in papers.
Although everyone including the minister for Women and Child Development want the age of consensual sex to remain at 18, the UPA GoM is forcibly bringing it down to 16 on the ground that marriages happen at an early age in rural India saying that the bringing down of the age will prevent in criminalization of sex. Unfortunately, the government has failed to create awareness in rural India regarding the ill effects of early age marriage and doing this to justify the failure as success.
Let see first why the age for consensual sex must remain at 18:
- Till the age of 18, children are under the custody of parents or legal guardians and they are not entitled for making legal decisions.
- Any decisions taken by a minor will be emotionally immature and hence the law considers it as null and void.
- As per Indian constitution, the age for legal employment is 18 and below 18 is considered to be child labor and it is a punishable offence.
- Today teen pregnancy is a major challenge in the so called developed nations of western world. (There are ample reports available on the public domain).
- Kids below 18 years might not engage in sex with proper protection such as condom / contraceptive pills. This might lead to transmission of sexual diseases and may also result in teen pregnancy. This will lead to increase in abortion rates and may result in death of the girl if not done properly or at the right time.
- In the case of consensual sex at 16 years, the responsibility of the pregnancy will not be the kid’s own but the entire family’s (parents or legal guardian)
- A girl might have sex at 16 and get pregnant. But she will not be legally eligible for marriage. This might be beneficial for a sex seeking boy but not for the girl or her family who will face trauma due to social issues and might even get forced to commit suicide.
- Teen pregnancy will result in fatherless children who will be psychologically affected and it has been proven that many fatherless children engage in crimes. (Reports available in public domains)
- If a girl is raped at minor age (assume above 16), the rapist can escape legal battles or win through blackmail or by threatening the girl and her family.
- Some families might disown the pregnant girl and the girls might end up committing suicide or may end in the wrong hands of society resulting in growth of prostitution rings and illegal drugs.
Our government is keen on internet censorship to curb voice of public. Similarly they are interested in media censorship and they debate on TV’s like FTV which may contain semi-nude contents which is common for European countries like France. Where as the same government is not worried porn sites which has adults only contents but are freely accessible to children home alone!
If the bill is successfully passed as per new recommendations of GoM, at the end only the Hospitals, drugs companies, Condom companies, etc., will get benefitted. Probably this is part of UPA’s economic reforms agenda for short term. In future, based on similar logic, govt may even try to reduce the age of consensual sex even further which will only be beneficial to wolves with sexual thirst.
Not sure if this is part of the UPA’s employment creation and economic development plan to attract foreign investments by making India a sexual tourism hub and create lot of prostitutes from young citizens who have great potential to build this nation’s future and make it proud in the world stage.
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