MP Court Asks Centre To Lower Age Of Consent, But Is 16 Mature Enough?

"If people in the country are allowed to vote only at 18, how can they be mature enough to give consent to sexual relationships at 16?" a working professional said on Madhya Pradesh court's recent remark on the age of consent

Kalyani Ganesan
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The Madhya Pradesh High Court has urged the central government to revisit the age of sexual consent in India. The HC noted that the Criminal Law Amendment Act, which raised the age, has resulted in injustice with adolescent boys."

The single bench court, headed by Justice Deepak Kumar Agarwal, was hearing a plea to quash a case registered against a 20-year-old man who was accused of raping a minor. The man was booked under relevant sections, including rape charges under the Indian Penal Code, POCSO Act, and IT Act.

The order passed on June 27 ordered the police to quash the FIR, noting that boys and girls get attracted to each other in their teens and engage in a physical relationships. Due to the fact that these boys are treated like criminals in society, most of the criminals today are under the age of 18, and treating them as criminals is an injustice to them. Saying so, the court added that the age of consent for girls be reduced from 18 to 16.

Further, the court noted that due to the wide exposure, adolescents were "attaining puberty at an early age and are hence getting into physical relationships before becoming adults". Justice Agarwal observed that as most adolescents over the age of 14 are on social media and access the internet, they are getting attracted to each other resulting in a physical relationship.

According to the prosecution, the girl was a minor at the time of the incident. However, the court noted that an adolescent was capable of making conscious decisions with regard to his or her well-being. Hence, the court urged the centre to redress the age of consent.

However, with a lack of adequate sex education for adolescents in the country, should we really lower the age of sexual consent? It’s undeniable that teenagers do have a lot of exposure and get into physical relationships. That being said, considering this fact, the country should rather prioritise implementing sex education schemes so that adolescents clearly know what they are doing.

Is 16 mature enough?


Deeptha Sreedhar, an MNC professional, said that she doesn’t feel that it’s a welcome move in India. "If people in the country are considered adults only at 18 and allowed to vote and choose the right leader, how can they be mature enough to give consent to sexual relationships at 16? If they are apparently not mature enough to choose who should rule them, how are they mature enough to decide who to be intimate with? Not every adolescent will have that much clarity, which may result in bad or hasty decisions and offenders taking advantage of the situation."

"While this might be okay in a Western country where sex education is comparatively better than in our country, I strongly feel it’s unnecessary in our country where sex still remains taboo," said Sruthi, an entrepreneur. "Personally, I feel 16 is a little too young to decide consent. That is a phase where you think you know everything, but in reality, you are still trying to figure things out. So, one wrong move might lead to unnecessary complications," she added.

Niveditha Sreenivasan, an MNC professional said that she thinks education must be made compulsory until 21 to reduce minor rapes and minor marriages. "I think women don't possess knowledge about their own bodies! I'm not too sure how this will turn out when education is also reduced, as is exposure. On top of it all, making way for more people to engage in sexual activities without understanding the concept of protection is also highly alarming!" she said.

Subashini Sreeram, an IT Professional noted that this was definitely not a good move because paedophiles who are already at bay will begin taking advantage if such a law is in place. She said, "In India, we don't have a comprehensive sex-ed curriculum or open communication about sex relationships and consent at home. So, before implementing such a rule, it's mandatory to impart sex education first. If we are going to be open to sexually liberated teenagers, then equipping them to have safe sexual encounters is a must. Without that, this reduction in the age of consent is not going to help."

"With the lack of sex education in an overpopulated country like India and a male-dominated society, this is not a welcoming move. 16-year-olds are not mature enough to give consent unless they receive proper education and understand relationships, sex, and consent. If the age of consent is reduced to 16, this will only lead to more sexual abuse and rape in the country due to a lack of sex education," said Viji Balachandran added that it might even lead to unwanted teen pregnancies, and noted that it would be the girls who would end up suffering. She further added that it would also increase child marriages, and with marital rapes not criminalised in India, the age of consent should not be reduced.


Suggested Reading: US Teacher Sent On Leave For Discussing Sexual Pleasure: Isn't Sex-Ed Priority?

Views expressed by the author are their own

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