The Time has Come to Consider Lowering the Age of Consent from 16 to 18!

  • As you are aware, the protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act was introduced in India to safeguard children from sexual predators. What prompted the authorities to promulgate the said Act in the first place? The growing incidents of sexual offences against minor children had raised the concerns of all concerned. It was inevitable for the government authorities to come out with an all-encompassing law that is intended to not only protect gullible children from prying anti-social elements but also have in place a deterrence to dissuade such acts from happening. Undeniably, the intention behind the Act cannot be questioned.  The moot point to ponder over here is how effective the Act has been in keeping sexual offenders at bay.

PC: Giti Pratap

  • The answer lies in the details. Let’s delve into the same to comprehend the effectiveness or otherwise.  Mind you it’s been ten years since the POCSO Act came into being as a special law.  From gender-neutral offences to child-friendly special courts following gentler procedures in recording statements and conducting trials, it was a much-needed reform.  As statistics suggest, cases under POCSO have risen steadily, suggesting greater reporting of offences, but this needs constant upgrading of judicial infrastructure.  A Vidhi report on POCSO published reveals that pendency has risen sharply after the pandemic struck and that disposal of cases within a year of the institution may be slowing down.  This is a matter of concern.
  • Note that with victims being children, longer disposal times are unacceptable. Disturbingly, the report also noted three acquittals for every conviction, suggesting police are failing at marshalling evidence.  Nonetheless, POCSO’s biggest problem is that it increased the age of consent from 16 to 18 years.  This implies that consent of those between 16 and 18 isn’t valid in sexual intercourse.  Consequently, many POCSO cases involve girls’ families filing sexual assault charges where they don’t approve of relationships. Half of POCSO cases are accounted for by the 16-18 age bracket.  The Karnataka high court has sought a review of the age of consent citing ground realities.  Delhi HC recently granted bail in a classic case of POCSO misuse.

PC: Akanksha

  • What was the ostensible reason here? The accused was implicated by his 17-year-old “wife’s” father. Ironically, the father conducted her marriage while still an adolescent, but when she rebelled, eloped, and remarried, the father slapped POCSO on her second husband.  Remember, POCSO was meant to protect children below 18 from sexual exploitation, not criminalise consensual romantic relationships between young adults, Delhi HC rightfully observed.  It’s worth reiterating the letter and spirit of POCSO must reflect this sensible proposition.  If the Act is consistently failing to deliver results on expected lines vis-à-vis conviction, it’s time to consider whether the age of consent should be lowered from 18.  Hopefully, this garners traction ahead.

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Krishna MV
Krishna is a Post Graduate with specialization in English Literature and Human Resource Management, respectively. Having served the Indian Air Force with distinction for 16 years, Armed Forces background definitely played a very major role in shaping as to who & what he is right now. Presently, he is employed as The Administrator of a well known educational institute in Bangalore. He is passionate about sharing thoughts by writing articles on the current affairs / topics with insightful dissection and offering counter / alternate views thrown in for good measure. Also, passionate about Cricket, Music – especially vintage Kannada & Hindi film songs, reading – non-fictional & Self-Help Books, and of course, fitness without compromising on the culinary pleasures.