Monday, July 22, 2024

Bombay High Court suggests ‘Age of Consent’ should be Lowered

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The Bombay High Court suggests that the government should lower the ‘Age of Consent’. It asks the Indian parliament to observe foreign countries’ norms to legalize the age for consensual sexual relationships in India. The ‘Age of Consent’ refers to the legal age at which a sexual relationship is acceptable in the eyes of the law. In 2012, the Congress-led coalition government increased this age from 16 years to 18 years. The Bombay HC’s statement questions the moral integrity of the Indians. 

Why did the Bombay HC make such a comment?

Bombay High Court bats for lowering the age of consent for sex
PC OpIndia

The Bombay HC was hearing an appeal against the sentencing of a 25-year-old man. The case challenged the man’s conviction for marrying a 17-year-old girl in a ‘Nikah’ and engaging in sexual relations with her. The POCSO Act sentenced the man as guilty. Under POCSO Act, all sexual relations with a girl under 18 years is an act of rape. Thus, the girl’s age made the consent to marriage and sex null and void. Thus, the man was convicted for engaging in sexual intimacy with an underage girl he had married. 

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However, the girl or ‘child-bride’ testified to her consent in front of Justice Dangre in the Bombay HC. Moreover, the couple stated that under Muslim Personal Law, the girl was not a minor. Thus, the case did not align with the POCSO Act. The Bombay HC agreed with this view and the judge set the man’s conviction aside. Thereafter, the court stated that the case did not ring of sexual abuse of a minor girl. Additionally, according to Justice Dangre, girls should have sexual freedom at an age younger than 18. Furthermore, he stated that Indian girls should have freedom of sexual expression just like the girls of the West.

Legal Dichotomy for ‘Age of Consent’ 

India Needs to Lower Age of Consent (And Stop Misuse of Child Protection Laws)
PC The Quint

The Prohibition of Child Marriage Amendment (PCMA) Bill of 2021 states that girls cannot marry before the age of 21. The POCSO Act states the ‘Age of Consent’ is 18 years; i.e. girls below 18 cannot legally consent to sexual relationships. 

These laws are in consonance with each other. They place personal growth ahead of sex or marriage for all girls.

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Consequently, they also allow girls with developed mental and physical maturity to choose their sexual partners after 18 years of age. However, the age of marriage for women is different in the various Personal Laws Boards in India.

  1. The Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 sets the minimum age for marriage as 18 years for brides and 21 years for grooms.
  2. Under Muslim Personal Laws, the general age of consent for marriage is 15 years for girls, if she has attained puberty. 
  3. The Indian Christian Marriage Act of 1872 sets the age of majority at 18 years for girls and 21 years for boys.
  4. The Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act of 1936 set the minimum age for marriage as 21 years for males and 18 years for females.

Thus, the PCMA Bill of 2021 contradicts all these personal laws. The judiciary chooses the law on a case-wise basis. However, except the Muslim Personal Law, all the other personal laws align with the POCSO Act’s 18 years as the ‘Age of Consent’. Thus, a marriage under these laws may be illegal as per PCMA 2021; but the subsequent ‘marital intimacy’ is not regarded as ‘rape’ by the POCSO Act.

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Contrarily, the Muslim Personal Law Board’s age of marriage for girls does not align with the POCSO Act guidelines. Thus, some Muslim marriages run into legal trouble in India. Some marriages will be illegal under PCMA 2012. Additionally, the man will be charged with ‘rape’ for sexual intimacy with an underage girl.

Why is the Bombay HC’s Observation Flawed?

Justice Dangre wanted India to look at the examples of Germany, France, the UK, etc. where the ‘age of consent’ is 14-16 years. The HC was of the view that girls should be allowed freedom of expression of sexual desire. However, this observation is flawed. Indian girls have the freedom to sexual desire; however, they cannot legally act upon it until the age of 18 years. This allows young girls to make a choice of life or sexual partners at a more mature stage in life. A lower age of consent will give acceptance to casual relationships among underage children in India. It will also open the floodgates for pedophiles to target teenagers. Both these conditions shall lead to the detriment of the Indian society’s moral quotient.

The ‘Age of Consent’ protects girls from unwanted sexual aggression. It also protects teenagers, whose hormones are on a rampage, from acting upon sexual desires. Indian society believes that a person should act upon their sexual desires when they have the maturity to vote. If a person is not of the mental acuity by law to vote they should not engage in casual sex. Consent for sexual intimacy should be obtained from mature women, not young teenage girls. 

Uniform Minimum Marriageable Age of Girls Proposed to be 21 Years Regardless of Religion - News18
PC News 18

Western society is suffering under its ‘woke’ self-harm ideology and sexual freedom. Thus, instead of copying it India should stick to its own ethics. India should incorporate a common law, like the UCC, to protect young girls and teenagers from the Liberal’s agenda. Indian law should stand as an impenetrable wall in front of sexual predators who exploit young girls’ emotions and hormones to obtain consent for sex or marriage. 

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