Consent and controversy
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I was asked if the new law will "punish innocent love". He is 19, his girlfriend 17, they engage in "thoda bahut" and "may marry or may not" after she turns 18, he 21. He makes a valid point about the almost overlap of the minor and major ages. I reply, "Your case won't reach a court unless she makes a complaint to a police station. Should she complain, it would go to a special court where, presumably, a judge will already have been sensitised to such situations." The male young adult nods, he has understood that with rights, sexual or otherwise, come responsibilities. That no matter what the cut-off age, there will always be an almost-overlap.
The bill comprehensively deals with different aspects of how an entire childhood can be raped. It goes beyond penile-penetration to encompass fingers and objects. It is gender-neutral for children and adults. The key elements are: penetrative sexual assault; aggravated penetrative sexual assault; sexual assault; aggravated sexual assault; sexual harassment; the use of a child for pornographic purposes; the storage of pornographic materials involving a child; and the abetment of offences.
Some words paraphrased from the excised clause: "Provided that when such penetrative sexual assault is committed against a child between 16 to 18 years, it shall be considered whether the consent for such an act has been obtained against the will of the child." "Consent" means "the unequivocal voluntary agreement when the person has, by words, gestures or any form of non-verbal communication, communicated willingness to participate in the act." "Unequivocal voluntary agreement" meant "willingness given for specific and be limited to the express act consented to under this section".
This clause was only applicable to two aspects of the bill, penetrative sexual assault and sexual assault. Which meant that, while the clause stood, it was a crime to sexually harass a child when she or he was 18 but a child could be two years younger when a worse sexual crime was committed upon him or her and that would be "okay" because the child's "consent" would be sought.
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