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Reducing consensual age of sex is not the solution
The union cabinet has cleared a bill that proposes to reduce the consensual age of sex but this is not the solution. The need of the hour is the rewiring of society's attitude through moral values through educational institutions. Only moral education to youths can give protection and safety to women.

There had been different views on lowering the age of consensual sex after the Delhi gang-rape incident. But now the question is why the government is in a hurry in reducing the age of a major, adult or grown-up, especially when the ministries of central government themselves are not having a common opinion on this issue. In this context, what's the solution?

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The main accused in the Delhi gang rape has committed suicide in Tihar Jail and four others are being tried by the fast-track court while the one of the six accused, one has been declared a juvenile and facing proceedings before the Juvenile Justice Board.

The 35-year-old was the driver of the bus in which a 23-year-old trainee physiotherapist and her friend were brutally assaulted by him and five others in December 2012 but unfortunately the girl died in a Singapore hospital on December 29. The yog guru Baba commenting on slashing the consensual age has said that the decision to reduce the age would affect the social order and increase rape cases in the country as sex at 16 was not right for a person either physically or psychologically.

It means that even after giving a green signal for passing the anti-rape bill of Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2013, which provides for stringent punishment for crimes against women, including rape, cleared by the Union Cabinet and lowering the age of consent for sex from 18 to 16 years, the road is not clear for the Bill because of opposition from certain members of Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samajwadi Party in the cabinet. 

The main opposition is to make the eve-teasing and even following a woman, a non-bailable offence besides demanding a strict action against the registration of false cases. This Bill after handing over to the Prime Minister will be presented for discussion before the all-party meeting. In fact, the government wants that the anti-rape bill introduced in December last, is given the shape of law during the current session. 

Now everybody is looking for March 18 when an all-party meeting has been called to know their views and have a common consensus. The Women and Child Development Ministry and others including the Law Ministry are against this amendment. Only the Home Ministry is keen to pass the amendment in the Bill and the logic behind this view given by Sushil Kumar Shinde is that this amendment is being incorporated as per the recommendations of Justice J.S.Verma Committee, which was set up in the wake of national outrage over the gang-rape and assault of a 23-year-old here on December 16 last, besides number of representations received from various peoples in this regard.

The Verma Committee has recommended enhancing punishment to up to 20 years' imprisonment for rape and murder and a life-term for gang-rape, but refrained from suggesting the death penalty for the guilty. A day after Delhi Juvenile Board ruled that the most brutal culprit in the gang-rape case was a minor, leading to demands for a lower age ceiling for juveniles; Justice J.S. Verma vetoed the idea outright. 

India's rising rape cases - one every 22 minutes, according to the National Crime Records Bureau, betray what is wrong with society. Millions of Indians continue to believe that women invite trouble on themselves by being careless. Mothers often chide daughters for wearing provocative clothing, in most cases a sleeveless garment or a pair of hip-hugging jeans. The truth is, when most women report sexual harassment in India's cities, towns and villages, they are typically met with as a gesture of doubt.

Law reforms in the area of rape have been taking place over three decades but they do not appear to have arrested the appalling levels of violence to which Indian women are subjected. It is time for us to recognize how we as a society are implicated in producing the very individuals who are perpetrating such heinous crimes against women, and to start taking responsibility for bringing it to an end.

More law or calls for the death sentence are not the answer to what is a deeply ingrained societal problem. While these laws would look like long-term solutions - they will do little to help the young woman as the enactment of laws will only serve to give a sense of something being done; when in fact very little is being done. 

In fact, India's misplaced tolerance on the rape cases has helped the rapists to openly enter into a brutal, violent menace. Thus, reducing consensual age is not the solution.

Need of the hour is the rewiring of society’s attitude through educational institutions by making the moral values as part of the education syllabus so that youths should start part actively in their schools and communities in advocating women’s equality rights. What is required at this stage is not more protection and security, but moral education.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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