Age of consent deems sexual activity with persons below the set age as statutory rape, which POCSO has set at 18 years. However, the law in practice faces some unintended consequences, in relation to who it prosecutes and their ages.
During my interaction with students as a part of sexuality education classes in schools, one frequently asked question by boys is,“How to charm a girl?”
In our mid-month issue, Stuti Tripathi considers whether raising the minimum age of marriage for women from 18 to 21years is indeed a one-stop solution to check early marriages. She brings to our attention the many factors, such as family pressure, inaccessible educational and financial resources, traditionally defined roles of women, and gender-based marginalisation that together lead to early marriages and argues that young people need rights not protection.
It is necessary to recognize and address the key role that sexuality plays when it comes to our efforts against EFM. What we need to remember is that EFM “doesn’t just lead to a set of restricted choices; it reflects and reinforces a set of restricted choices that already exist.”
As development professionals, our tasks involve reflecting on the norms that service providers, colleagues and field staff engaging with communities hold on to so strongly. How can programmes create safe spaces to match up to service providers’ professional and personal beliefs so that they can challenge those norms in their own families and be non-judgmental?