Ranging from 850 girls to 1000 boys in Haryana to 922 girls to 1000 boys in Mumbai, the girl child faces the harsh reality of being minority among the aggressive males. Given the Indian society's mentality and outlook, a girl faces harassment at every level.
It is more pronounced after marriage and as per a report released last week India has largest child brides in the world with 47 percent girls married under the legal age of 18. This means every second girl in India is married underage.
In this scenario, it is pertinent to examine the decision to lower the age of consensual sex to 16. Social activists fear that this will affect the social order. Sex at 16 is not right for a person either physically or psychologically and the law will increase cases of child marriage, child sexual harassment and trafficking.
This is the reason why the proposal to lower the age of consensual sex continues to be controversial with even Women and Child Development Minister Krishna Tirath opposing it.
The Minister has maintained that the definition of the term 'child' is generally held to be anyone under 18 years of age. This definition was also present in the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act which was passed by the Parliament last year, she said.
Drawing on the wisdom of the world, the United Nations Population Fund, which released the figures on child brides said "Child marriage is an appalling violation of human rights and robs girls of their education, health and long-term prospects."
It is important that India should empower the girl child and the women, before tinkering with laws on consensual sex.