Khaps, Muslim groups angry over reducing consensual sex age

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Protest against rape
New Delhi, March 16: Government's decision to lower the age of consent for consensual sex from 18 to 16 is receiving large scale opposition from various groups.

Khaps and Muslim groups have expressed anger over government's decision.

"The Khap is against the decision to lower age of consent for sex. Either the minimum age for marriage should also be reduced to 16 else this law should be revoked," said Randhir Singh, a village head.

Singh spoke at a mass meeting of the Khap panchayats in Rohtak, Haryana. Khaps say that girls having sex at 16 will prove a bane for the society.

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.

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.

Government through the Bill is planning to lower the age of consent for consensual sex from 18 to 16. Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) favours a strong anti-rape Bill, but it strongly opposes the lowering of age to 16 years.

"BJP agrees with most issues stated in the Bill and would like it to be passed. But some sections in the party have reservations on decreasing the age of consent from 18 to 16 years. We will take a final call on these issues after discussing it in the party," a senior party leader said.

Even Trinamool Congress (TMC) opposes lowering the age to 16 years. SP, RJD and JD (U) are uncomfortable with clauses dealing with voyeurism and stalking.

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