Children have the Right to consent too, but several dismiss it over the naiveness of kids. Often, many confuse harassment with coddling. Giving chocolates, luring into corners, kissing without consent, or running hands over the body, while the child is clearly uncomfortable is harassment and not coddling. When children show denial, their expression is brushed away as irritation that every child has. However, society needs to know there is a wide difference between giving love and harassing.
Calcutta HC On Consent Of Minor
Recently, Calcutta High Court ruled that removing a girl’s undergarments and forcing her to lie down (done by strangers) amounts to rape. “The action of removing the undergarment of the victim, covering and protecting her private parts, and forcibly making her lie down on the ground cannot be for any other oblique reason but indubitably for the purpose of ravishing her. The minor child cannot be said to be pampered or mollycoddled by asking to remove her pants and reclining her against her will,” the court said.
Court's statement was restricted to strangers, but it applies to known ones too. No matter how well-acquainted the person may be with a girl, none has the right to force anything on her. Bathing, cleaning, kissing, or just cuddling- nothing can be enforced on a minor if they are uncomfortable.
Coincidently, a tweet today in which a mother, Mahima Vashsisht, talked about the consent of kids surfaced online. She stated in the tweet that her toddler has a habit of holding her hair locks while sleeping. She expressed that she is afraid that her toddler will continue this habit into adulthood, which she doesn’t want. Why you wonder? Because this action clearly shows that the toddler doesn’t understand the concept of consent. It normalises the idea that it can touch or get touched by anyone without consent.
Further women emphasised teaching him about consent, to not touch anyone without their consent. And not let anyone touch him without his consent. It is a super important but not a supernatural concept for a kid to learn because kids like to hug and hit with equal abandon. This forces us to think about whether to teach consent to kids or not.
At times, when kids express discomfort, the action is forced upon them even more and their irritation is ignored by saying “Who bas pyaar kr rhe hai.” Finding children cute and giving them love is fine but persisting to touch them despite their disapproval is wrong. Ignorance of their right to consent over their innocence is not right. They may not be knowing consent, but they do know what they don't like. So minor or not, read the room people.
The information on consent doesn't come automatically to kids. The parents play a very important role. They must teach kids about consent and must ask for one before doing anything to them. As the aforementioned mother pointed out the kids must be taught to not touch anyone without consent. With this children can learn how to interact and improve their socialising skills.
If the idea of consent is fed well, the child may be atleast aware of what is not right. Whether it is harassment or not comes later. With a basic understanding of consent, a child could know where to ask the person to stop. From personal experience, as a kid, a relative of mine used to touch me inappropriately, which was uncomfortable. Although, I couldn't oppose it as my parents used to be right there smiling. For them, it was the person’s expression of love. But for me, it was a non-consensual act. I may not be aware of the right to my body but knew it was bad.
Does being a kid mean not having the right to deny uncomfortable things? Can't kids have the right to decide what is wanted?
Dear society! So stop taking kids’ consent for granted. They are humans too. And if they don’t learn the idea of consent, they will not only bear injustice but also be a part of it.
Views expressed are the author's own.
Suggested Reading: Any Touch That Makes Women Uncomfortable Is Sexual Harassment. Period.