Child Sexual Abuse

May 13, 2012

I remember how Childline (1098) was being propagated as institution that would pick up leftover food from parties to feed homeless children. It was shared by millions on Facebook and many others by emails and other social networks. Ignorance and apathy is what rules these days. I am saying it again just go to http://www.childlineindia.org.in and see the popup. How many calls would they have got and maybe even getting now. That aside, there is a subtle discussion in this show about the real problem our system is facing when it comes to laws. Protection of Children Sexual Offences Bill, 2011 has been passed in Rajya Sabha about 2 days back (It was not passed when this episode was shot I think).

Now this is a commendable task accomplished by the Government. However, TOI has put up a news article saying that this Bill is draconian since it has increased age of consent from 16 to 18 and to quote them, “…but it also seeks to criminalize teenage sex, making any intercourse below 18 years of age an offence”. As has been the reputation of TOI I was not inclined to believe them and took a look at that bill. The clause reads as below (Click here to see the bill)

“…..Provided that where such penetrative sexual assault is committed against a child between sixteen to eighteen years of age, it shall be considered whether the consent for such an act has been obtained against the will of the child or the consent has been obtained by use of violence, force, threat to use force, intoxicants, drugs, impersonation, fraud, deceit, coercion, undue influence, threats, when the child is sleeping or
unconscious or where the child does not have the capacity to understand the nature of the act or to resist it.

Explanation I.— For the purposes of this section,—

(a) “consent” means the unequivocal voluntary agreement where the person has by words, gestures, or any form of non-verbal communication, communicated willingness to participate in the act referred to in this section;

(b) “unequivocal voluntary agreement” means willingness given for specific and be limited to the express act consented to under this section.

Explanation II.— A child, who does not offer actual physical resistance to penetrative sexual assault is not by reason only of that fact, to be regarded as consenting to the sexual activity.”

The bill never talks about consent when it comes to children below 16 and it qualifies what consent is for age 16 to 18. Explanation I gives you the right for consent and Explanation II tells you what is not accepted. After reading this just read the comments on the TOI article and you will see that I am right when I say ignorance and apathy rules these days. This piece of legislation definitely has loop holes like the Dowry Law that can be exploited and used against the innocent but it definitely does not seek to penalize all teenage sexual acts. Ladies and gentlemen, this is journalism in this country and the citizens who believe everything they read in newspapers like TOI or watch on shady news channels.

Below is the video that inspired a part of this article