When it comes to older women seducing underage boys, the issue doesn’t invite as much of our condemnation as its inverse does. In the current social climate of awareness regarding sexism and misogyny, men seducing underage girls receives a lot of criticism. But it would be false to say that the reverse doesn’t happen in our society. Just recently, a 22-year-old woman was arrested under POCSO in Mumbai on allegations of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old boy. According to The Times Of India, the woman claims that her relationship with the boy is consensual and they even got married last year.

The police were acting on a complaint filed by the boy’s mother. She alleged that the woman had enticed her son and was threatening to harm herself if the boy tried to break up with her. Many a times, women who engage in sexual relationships with underage boys do not suffer any harsh consequences, as a man would have. However, this needs to change. We all need to take such cases seriously. Because by not doing so, we are putting numerous boys in harm’s way.

It is hard for us to look at women as sexual predators. Our conditioning never lets us accept that women can also prey on boys, and that the latter can be victims of sexual crimes too

But any adult, irrespective of gender, who coerces a minor, again irrespective of their gender, into forming consensual or non-consensual sexual relations is a sex offender. This is because the other party in this relationship isn’t legally old enough to give consent. Thus, the law sees a minor’s consent to sexual intercourse as a result of coercion and misleading.

SOME TAKEAWAYS-

  • Mumbai police have arrested a 22-year-old women under POCSO for having a sexual relationship with a minor boy.
  • She has justified her relationship saying that it was consensual and that they even got married last year.
  • If we were to reverse the genders here, this incident would have earned a lot of public outrage.
  • But our conditioning prevents us from accepting that women can also prey on boys, and that the latter can be victims of sexual crimes too.

One of the possible reasons why we look at sex between an adult woman and a minor boy as not a crime, is because of how society perceives sex. Generally, we have a tendency to project men and boys as always wanting sex. If a teen sleeps with an older woman, his peers hail him as a stud. They see it as not a violation, but a feather in his cap. It is something a boy must brag about, instead of feeling victimised. It will earn him a “reputation”. Such affairs have also been glamorised in films and books. But we should note is that if an act is a crime for one gender, it cannot be otherwise for another. Sex with a minor makes an adult a sex offender and we shouldn’t look at it differently, even if teen banter or general mindset tries to tell us otherwise.

There may be so many boys who may have gotten sexually abused by older women. They end up normalising the act in their heads, because no one told them otherwise

So many of them may endure lifelong trauma of their past sexual experience, confused as to why they feel violated, when others wanted them to believe it was fun. This is because a young boy, no matter what his self belief or peer circle wants him to believe, is still a child. He is not fully matured to understand the consequences of sexual interactions. Which means that even on entering into a relationship willingly, he did not fully understand the situation. The thought process of a teen mind and an adult mind is drastically different. Today, a teen may feel like he has proved his manhood with having sex on coercion of a woman. But he will look at the incident differently when he grows up.

Thus, as is the case of older men seducing young women, the responsibility of sex with minor boys must lie with adult women. If a woman, despite knowing that it is illegal to have sex with a child, decides to sleep with a 16-year-old, then she deserves to go to jail. Being an adult, she shouldn’t have gone ahead with the act, yet she chose to. How can the society then look at her differently? How can people not be as angry at her, as they would have been, if we were to reverse genders here? Perhaps we should ask ourselves this question every time such an incident comes to light. That is the only way we can see such acts as what they are — culpable sexual offences.

Pic by Dr. Gayle Friend

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Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section.  The views expressed are the author’s own.

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