What are the reasons in favour of this decision to reduce this age bar, other than assuring punishment for the rapist? We should discuss it on priority basis. Or, we may feel suffocated in the long run. The anti-rape bill requires unanimity and even the Prime Minister himself has to get involved. He set up the GoM to resolve the differences.
Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde expressed confidence that the differences would be resolved and the government will be able to secure parliamentary approval for the legislation by March 22. The bill is expected to be in parliament only next week as Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath has called an All Party Meet to evolve consensus over the issue.
Thus, the stage is all set for reducing the age for having consensual sex for both men and women to 16 from current 18 years. Since the proposition centres on the gang rape, and the whole nation waits with a throbbing heart to see what is actually happening, it is highly debatable if it at all can yield any good results. One gang rape, however, horrendous it is, cannot establish anything on this earth. Till today, no statement comes out in favour of Nirbhaya (an imaginary name for the Dehi gang rape victim) from the authorities, but suddenly for punishing a minor, the draft is being changed to a bill.
All states have, in principle, agreed to reduce the age limit for juveniles from 18 to 16 at a meeting of chief secretaries and police officers in Delhi and the meeting was chaired by Home Minister. The minor was most barbaric in the brutal gang rape and murder of the victim. The juvenile reportedly removed her intestines with his bare hands and suggested that she be thrown off the bus. After this anyone will agree that for punishing the juvenile crime, any step can be taken.
The problem lies elsewhere. After the reduction of the juvenile age, in many other situations, young people may claim to do more ghastly things on the plea that they have become adults and parents will not have any control over them. That is the other side which very few people are focusing on.
At the age of 16, a young man does not even leave school. But after the law for reducing the age limit is passed, a schoolboy may challenge his parents and may even lay claims on property, along with other rights to freedom. The word minor will be of no value after this. At the age of sixteen, many children gain maturity and if they are suddenly told that adulthood comes so early, then there is every chance that they might misuse the opportunity. Section 2(k) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 defines juvenile as a boy who has not completed 18 years of age.
Nowadays, love marriage and elopement occur every now and then. After juvenile age is lowered, a 16-year-old school boy may take any step against the family members and parents. It is true that the gang rape victim’s soul will get some consolation if the accused minor is not spared on the plea of juvenility. But there are also other problems and consequences as well in reducing the age limit for attaining adulthood. It is very rare that a boy of sixteen can take any decision independently and with full responsibility.
After lowering the juvenile age, child marriages will increase in number and many such other incidents will occur which may create a bigger crisis. It would be better that we take some more time to discuss the pros and cons of lowering the juvenile age, and at the same time there should be a special bill for punishing minors accused in the gang rape in the harshest possible way. But to generalize the issue and to bring all 16-year-old youths in adult category could prove to be a decision taken in hurry. After all, there are no assurances that reduction in juvenile age will help in preventing rapes.
The most popular citizen journalists' reports on merinews chosen automatically on the basis of views and comments
View more jobs