The Union cabinet on Thursday approved the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Bill, which will address sexual offences, sexual harassment and assault on children under 18 years of age.
According to the new law, having sex with persons below 18 years of age will be deemed as “rape”, irrespective of “consent or no consent”. The amendments to the law were suggested by the parliamentary standing committee which scrutinized the bill.
“In the original bill, the provision was not to treat consensual actions by and against children between the age group of 16 to 18 as crime,” a cabinet source said.
The parliamentary committee had expressed the view that once the age of the child had been specified as up to 18 years in the Bill, the element of consent should be treated as irrelevant up to this age and suggested that provisions related to age of consent should be deleted.
Section 375 of the IPC will now read as: “Rape will be committed with or without consent when the girl is under 16 years of age.” The proposed law also aims to protect children from offences, including sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography.
Another amendment to the Bill was approved after which the responsibility to create awareness about the law would be vested in both the central and state governments, officials said.
The Cabinet, meanwhile, referred the Protection of Women Against Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill, 2010, to a group of ministers as the women and child development ministry had proposed several amendments to it.— —With agency inputs