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Anti-Rape Law: Age of Consent unchanged at 18

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After strong objections raised by various political parties over the age of consensual sex in the proposed anti-rape law, the government took U-turn from its decision and raised it back to 18. The main opposition BJP and other parties suggested that lowering of age of consent for sex to 16 will encourages pre-marital sex.

The bill, which is about to be tabled in Lok Sabha today following two rounds all-party meeting on Monday, says that sex between a male, above the age of 18 years, and a girl, below the age of 16 years, will be construed as rape. If a male under the age of 18 years has sexual encounter with a girl below 16 years, will be charged with one time probation and the sex will not be called statutory rape.

The Cabinet made certain changes in the proposals made by Justice Verma Committee to make it a strong anti-rape bill for women. The government had promised the people of India to bring a strong law to control crime against women following the brutal gangrape of a 23-year-old girl in New Delhi on December 16.

Analysing the recommendations of Justice Verma Committee, the government had lowered the age of consent for sex from 18 to 16. However, political parties including BJP, Communist Party of India (Marxist), UPA ally Samajwadi Party had strongly objected the decision in the bill. The Shiromani Akali Dal opposed it saying reducing the age of consent for sex will lead to high number of teenage pregnancies and illegal abortions in society.

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