Age of Consent Lowered, No Change on Marital Rape: Exclusive Details of Anti-rape Bill

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Students protest against the Delhi gangrape Photo: Dijeshwar Singh

Tehelka’s Special Correspondent Ashhar Khan has exclusive access to the details of the final form of anti-rape bill which will be tabled at union cabinet meeting on the morning of 12 March. Some of the biggest changes expected in the bill would be lowering of age of consent to 16, barring anybody in authority committing sexual offence for life from service including policemen and public servants and criminal action against management of any hospital – government or private – which denies treatment to rape victims. Treatment would also be free of cost.

On the contentious issue of marital rape and gender neutrality, the status quo is expected to be maintained. “Victim has only been defined as women however the accused can be man or woman,” says Khan. The provisions of rape will apply only to couples who have separated.

Offences like voyeurism and stalking have been included as sexual offence. The accused will now also pay for victim’s rehabilitation.

The present anti-rape ordinance, was promulgated by President Pranab Mukherjee on February 3, based largely on the recommendations of the three-member Verma commission, headed by Justice JS Verma, which was set up after public outrage over the brutal gang-rape of a medical student in a moving bus in Delhi in December last year.

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