Dec 1, 2010

An amendment that makes sense

This evening, as I opened Kuensel, I was greeted with some welcome news. After writing and harping about this finally something has been done about it. Parliament has unanimously taken a second look at what constitutes "rape."

Here is what it was like; prior to the amendment having sex with anyone below 18 years of age was considered "rape" and could be penalized with imprisonment from 5 to 9 years. While this is good, there were many instances where young people having consensual sex even if they were 16 - 18 also fell victim to this law. As a result many were put behind bars. While the age of consent varies from country to country and in the U.S, State to State, in Bhutan the age of consent was 18 while its marriageable age (given that we are a largely agrarian society) was as young as 15 (although this is changing fast).

This created some kind of contradiction because while some as young as 16 and 15 were getting married, others who were 18 were going to prison. There was no consistency in this law nor did it make sense, but now according to the amendment if its consensual sex then it does not result in imprisonment.

Here is what Kuensel said: Although under the law, any act of sexual intercourse committed against a child between 12 years to 18 was considered guilty, the house decided consensual sex between children above 16 years will not be considered rape. In the past, sexual intercourse between children above 16 and below 18 years, consensual or otherwise, was considered rape.

If you look at the international list of "age of consent"for sex it looks like the average is 16. While this makes sense along with this amendment, there can be unwanted repercussions like teen pregnancy etc. given that it is now legal. In that respect, government/health sector should step up their need to provide sex education in schools.

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