New Delhi: In a move that is sure to meet protests and criticism, the government is planning to allow 12-year-old children to have non-penetrative sex with children of their age.
The proposal is part of the draft Protection of Children From Sexual Offences Bill, 2010, which has been forwarded to states by the Ministry of Women and Child Development to seek their views, a leading news daily reported on Tuesday.
Further, the Bill proposes to introduce age categories for permitting consensual non-penetrative sex: 12-14 years and 14-16 years. At present, consensual sex in the country is allowed above age 16.
The Bill lays down that in the 12-14 age group, the age gap of consenting children should not be more than two years while in the 14-16 group, the maximum gap should be three years.
Union Law Minister Veerappa Moily, in his reaction to the proposals, told the daily that 12 years was not a proper age to indulge in sexual activity.
At present, the age for consensual sex in the US varies from 16 to 18 years, depending on the state they live in. In the UK, the age of consent is 16 while Spain is the most liberal with 13 years.
The ministry will soon send the Bill to the Union Cabinet, following which a Parliamentary Standing Committee will look into it. Reactions received from the states will be taken into consideration then, ministry officials said.
Meanwhile, the Law Ministry is also working on a similar Bill with an identical name, which lays down the age of consent as 16 years. In the Law Ministry’s Bill, no gradation is proposed.
With two government ministries working on a similar Bill, there is bound to be confusion.