Vol IX, Issue 1 Date of Publication: January 12, 2024
DOI: https://doi.org/10.20529/IJME.2024.001

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Law Commission of India report on the age of consent: Denying justice and autonomy to adolescents

Amita Pitre
Sunita Sheel Bandewar
The 22nd Law Commission of India (henceforth, the Commission) [1], in its recent 283rd report, offered its recommendation on the question of age of consent (AoC) to sexual activity. Two High Courts which have seen several cases of non-exploitative consensual sex involving adolescent girls, filed by the police under “sexual assault”, had referred this issue to the Commission. The substantive matter before the Commission was whether to lower the AoC to prevent unnecessary prosecutions and resolve the contradictions in sexual violence laws. In this regard, we find the report rather disappointing. It is a lost opportunity to decriminalise adolescent sexuality, to restore the autonomy of adolescent girls over their bodies, uphold their sexual and reproductive rights, and respect their evolving capacity to exercise their sexuality. The Commission has also let go of a chance to undo a highly protectionist clause in the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO), 2012 [2] which renders all sexual activity of individuals under the age of 18 an offence. It failed to reiterate the progressive recommendations made by the Justice Verma Committee Report in 2013 [3] in this regard, which had come after extensive deliberations and were widely welcomed by stakeholders.

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©Indian Journal of Medical Ethics 2024: Open Access and Distributed under the Creative Commons license ( CC BY-NC-ND 4.0),
which permits only non-commercial and non-modified sharing in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.

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