New Delhi: At a time when the government is making efforts to evolve consensus for smooth passage of anti-rape bill, the khaps in Rohtak and Haryana as well as muslim groups have registered their protest against reducing the age of sexual consent from 18 to 16.

The Union Cabinet on Thursday last had cleared the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2013 that lowers the age of consent for sex from 18 to 16 years and makes ‘rape’ as a gender-specific offence under which men only cab be charged for it.

According to reports, village council heads in Haryana and Rohtak have demanded amendment of the Marriage Act and lowering of marriage age for women.

A village head Randhir Singh was quoted as saying that the Khap is against the decision to lower the age of consent for sex. “Either the minimum age for marriage should also be reduced to 16 else this law should be revoked,” the village head maintained.
Dozens of representatives of village councils had gathered at a mass meeting to ponder over the latest amends in the anti-rape bill.

Meanwhile, three leading Muslim groups too have opposed 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.

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 Hindi.

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.

Notably, the age of consent for sex was one of the highly contentious provisions in the Bill, because of which it was referred by the Cabinet to the GoM earlier. After the Cabinet approved the anti-rape bill, the government is making all efforts to evolve consensus for enabling its smooth passage.


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