- Special Pages
New Delhi: Three leading Muslim groups are against the government decision to lower the age for consensual sex, saying it will be a blow to family and social values.
Some of the groups are asking Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to withdraw the proposal. The Jamaat Islami Hind, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board and the Muslim Majlis Mushwarat, an apex body of Muslim social and religious groups, said the move will have “dangerous consequences” for the society.
The government must abandon the proposal, they said. While consensual sex is itself a social evil, lowering the age limit for sex outside marriage will prove detrimental for social values and India’s family structure, said Nusrat Ali of Jamaat Islami Hind.
A group of ministers headed by Finance Minister P Chidambaram has decided that the age for consensual sex will be lowered from 18 to 16 years. The central government formed the group to finalise the anti-rape law.
Ali said this provision would lead to “sexual anarchy” in India as schoolgoing children aged 16 and above will get involved in sexual activities. “We are of the view that sex (outside marriage) should be a crime. It must be a punishable offense irrespective of the age limit,” Ali said.
“As for lowering the age limit for consensual sex, this will lead to an unimaginable socially corrupt situation in the society. Not only this, this provision will increase crime against women rather than controlling it. We want the government to withdraw it and declare sex outside marriage a cognizable offence,” he said.
Maulana Ahmed Ali Quasi of the Muslims Majlis Mushwarat shared the sentiments. He said the government should have sought the opinion of religious groups on this sensitive issue. “One must visualise its impact on the whole society,” he said. “It will harm the Indian social system.”
The All India Muslims Personal Law Board also opposed the move. “It is an irony that the government proposes to lower the age of sex to 16 when the marriagable age is for girls in 18,” senior functionary Abdul Rahim Quereshi said. He said pre marital sex was against social norms and culture.
Meanwhile, a statement from a group of women’s rights activists welcomed the move. “The age of consent, which has been 16 years under the Indian Penal Code since 1983, has been retained at that. This is not a moral endorsement of teenage sexual activity. It is an acknowledgement that Indian society does not wish to treat our young men and women who might engage in consensual sexual acts as criminals and rapists,” the statement said.
anti-rape bill hailed
The activists welcomed the anti-rape bill cleared by the union cabinet, terming it a step forward for women’s rights in India and urging political parties to enact it into law.
“The approval by the union cabinet of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2013 on March 14 signals a step forward for women’s rights in India. We call upon the political parties who profess to stand up for women’s rights to show this in their deeds, and ask parliament to enact this bill into law,” a statement said.
The anti-rape bill — Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2013 — which provides for stringent punishment for crimes against women, including rape, was cleared by the union cabinet on Thursday. Various women’s rights organisations also said the bill seeks to protect society from the scourge of sexual violence.
“This is not a bill against men, it is a bill against criminals, it is a bill from which all citizens stand to gain peace of mind and respite from the mindless violence that stalks us. As representatives of women’s rights groups, human rights groups, lawyers and activists from across the country who have worked for decades towards reforming laws on rape and sexual (crimes), we welcome several provisions in the draft Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2013,” Farah Naqvi, women’s rights activist, said.
Some women activists also mentioned that crimes like stalking that destroy women’s lives, and can lead to their rape and brutal murder, are included in the bill. IANS