This article has been written by Ipsita Rout from KIIT School of Law and has been curated by Yashasvi Kanodia from NMIMS Kirit P. Mehta School of Law.
India. Population 136.64 Crores, almost 18% of the world’s population which people are not usually aware of, which also has a silver medal right after china when it comes to the most number of people or population in a country. But, how is all this related to the context of consensual intercourse? It is relevant because amongst all these ethnicities, religions, cultures and age groups- we have the toddlers, who one day become kids, and then one day those kids become adolescents. And that’s exactly the age that we are targeting in this article.
So why should adolescents or children going to the beautiful journey of puberty, not be treated as consenting parties to have intercourse? The following are the reasons for which, having consensual intercourse between the age of 16-18 should be illegal-
1. The augment of experimental curiosity, can lead to STDS. Sexually transmitted diseases can change someone’s premature, not well thought out situation and have major life turning crisis or consequences.
2. The psychology of children, irrespective of their gender or who they identify as, is still not the best version of themselves. That’s why they are not allowed to legally drink until they are 21. This isn’t a comparison to highlight the legal age to drinking and such age to have consensual intercourse, rather, elucidating the fact that certain irreversible choices can have a traumatic experience to how a person either identifies themselves or how they feel about making major life decisions.
3. This expands the argument from sexual abuse to not knowing what abuse is or what situations identify as an abuse. You’re 16, and all you think about is how to be popular at school or how to do better in that one team. The world is everything your imagination wants you to be, and you get subjected to things and do not have the mature moral compass to decide. What behavioral patterns are correct and what are not? What happens if a 16 (female) year-old gets pregnant with a child? We do not have social services like the US in our country to safeguard from parental abuse. The parents are going to pressure for an abortion. The male adolescent is going to run away from the responsibility from having to deal with it and this episode is going to forever haunt the mind of the female and her family. How is that logically appropriate, should we not encourage adolescents to have enough knowledge before they become parties to consensual intercourse?
4. The education system in our country is restrictive, and talking about sexual intercourse in public is still frowned upon and with preexisting stories like the boys locker room incidents and cyber-bullying, children today struggle school to maintain a decent reputation.What happens if lack of knowledge shapes either one of the consenting parties to experience trauma and compare any such incident to future conduct of safe intercourse?
5. Between the age of 16-18, having consensual intercourse and not following the traditional methods, is going to take a toll on both adolescents and their families. This is also correlated with the majority of youth before 25 years having STDs, STIs, HIV, AIDS etc., as a consequence of unprotected sexual intercourse even after being consenting parties.
6. Children between the age of 18, often suffer from emotional gaps with their parents- this is not subject to the parenting style, rather something that cannot be forced to shape with education. Thereby, they do things that lead them to hiding facts of truth and this includes adolescents who have consensual intercourse, and not having the support of their biological/adoptive parents meanwhile society frowning- takes a real toll on one’s mental wellness and well-being.
7. Struggling with their gender or who they identify as, sexual orientation- adolescents who are still deciding whether they identify as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, adolescents who have consensual intercourse suffer from social ostracization from their peers at school and the gap of understanding with parents shapes a person to go through long term consequences, like deciding to be introvert and not outgoing, involving themselves in gangster acts die to being singled out as drugs and turning into law breaking citizens as a result of chronic social ostracization.
The above are just a few of the many reasons, why children between the age of 16-18 should not be allowed to have sexual intercourse irrespective of consent. Because, the fact stays fact, that in that situation and premature moral compass one cannot fathom what it means to give consent or what they might be subjected to pressure, or if they know the long term consequences. Would this change with sexual education in schools and lack of social ostracization? Maybe, but you can never know for sure. Children are like flowers, they are filled with hope and innocence. It is our responsibility as adults to not encourage their mental well-being or wellness to be discarded or be brutally misused by letting them do what they deem fit. Therefore, the author of this article stands for protecting the youth and innocence of adolescents across the globe by taking a stand that sexual intercourse in between the age of 16-18 should not be legal.