Too late to come of age, feels NCPCR - The New Indian Express

Too late to come of age, feels NCPCR

Published: 19th November 2012 08:59 AM

Last Updated: 19th November 2012 08:59 AM

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has assailed certain sections of the new Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 saying fixing 18 years as the minimum age for consensual sex was impractical and regressive. The Act seeks to criminalise consensual sex between those below 18 years of age.

“There seems to be blanket assumptions relating to all sexual behaviour. This requires rethinking. When the Bill was drafted, NCPCR had suggested that the existing age of consent provision (16 years) be retained. However, it has not been accepted,” Shantha Sinha, Chairperson, NCPCR, told Express.

“In India, 18% of women are married before the age of 15 and nearly 47% is married off before the age of 18, according to UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children Report, 2012. To criminalise all sexual activity until the age of 18 is therefore rather obtuse. While trying to occupy a conservative moral high ground, we are simply denying the realities,” she argued.

“No doubt, it is a progressive Act as no other legislation has specifically included persons with disabilities and recognised their vulnerabilities as clearly as this Act.

However, we need to work more on empowering specially-abled kids through this Act. The training of interpreters, having more empathetic interpreters, addressing the issue of sign language being only in English whereas the disabled and abused child could have any language as mother tongue are some of the factors that need to be addressed by the Act,” says Deepti Bhatia, deputy director, Vidyasagar, a voluntary organisation that works with children with disabilities.  “We need to create awareness on the jargon and officials being addressed in the Act. How many would know where District Child Protection Unit in their district is? Every layer of the society needs to be educated on the Act, its scope and penalties,” says Vidya Reddy, founder of TULIR-Centre for the Prevention and Healing of Child Sexual Abuse.

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