Target: Parliament of India
Goal: Don’t outlaw consensual sex between 16-18-year-olds.
A recent bill called the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Bill would criminalize all sexual contact between minors has been passed through India’s Parliament and will likely be signed into law in coming weeks. This law would put teenagers who have consensual sex in jail. The minimum sentence for non-penetrative sex with a minor is 3 years, though minors would serve their sentences in juvenile facilities.
The bill’s intentions are unquestionably good—India’s rate of sexual abuse of children is nearly 50%, so the Indian government should be applauded for taking solid steps to prevent future child abuse. The sense of immediacy to the issue of child abuse is certainly what prompted the Parliament of India to fast-track the bill, such that it was passed in only 2 months.
However, in writing and passing this bill so quickly, important factors were not considered. Despite what parents like to think, teenagers often have sex no matter how many times they are told not to. In addition, nearly half of Indian girls are married before the age of 18. In light of these facts, the bill’s age of consent seems unrealistic.
According to Meenakshi Ganguly, the South Asia Director of Human Rights Watch, ‘There is a blanket assumption relating to all sexual behavior [in this bill]. This needs more thinking.’ Tell the Parliament of India to reconsider adding an exception to this bill allowing consensual sex between 16-18 year olds by signing the petition below.
Dear Parliament of India,
I applaud you for your efforts to end the sexual abuse of children in India with the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Bill. However, some important factors were overlooked when writing and passing this bill.
Whether we like it or not, teenagers do often have consensual sex. Many Indian teenagers, including nearly 50% of Indian girls, are married before the age of 18. Outlawing it will not reverse the trend—if enforced, this law will only cause huge numbers of teenagers to clog up juvenile facilities. This would cost the Indian government significant amounts of money, which could be put to better use apprehending real pedophiles.
The intent behind this bill is heartening and admirable, but it was written hastily and fails to account for nuance in sexual relationships. Child abusers should absolutely be brought to justice, but lumping sexually active teenagers who have consensual sex with each other into that category is short-sighted.
Please amend the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Bill to include an exception for 16-18 year olds who have consensual sex.
[Your Name Here]