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These Laws Pertaining To Teenage Pregnancy In India Are Only Complicating The Situation

  • IWB Post
  •  September 28, 2019

Unless you are both married and a major (above 18), getting pregnant in India can be the most traumatic experience of your life. While the societal setup in itself would be a gigantic issue, the laws will only add to making it more problematic.

The Times of India recently got in touch with Nipun Saxena, advocate, Supreme Court of India, to get a clearer account of legal provisions pertaining to teenage pregnancy in India. Here are excerpts from what he had to say on the topic:

Consent

When it comes to Indian laws, the idea of consent itself is a problematic one. To begin with, the idea of a consenting major is entirely different from the idea of a major. According to the Indian law a woman who is not a major cannot give her consent for sexual activity.

“Even though you may have given your consent for a sexual activity, it will be considered rape if you are below 18,” says Nipun. Earlier the age for a consenting major was 16 but the laws were changed after the Nirbhaya gangrape case.

Rape

While earlier just penetration fell under the definition of rape, changes have been made to it as well. Nipun shares, “However now, the new law says that any form of sexual contact, fingering, oral sex, etc., will also fall within the definition of rape.”

The case of teenager abortion

According to the law of Medical Termination of Pregnancy section 3, subclause 4, if a female is pregnant and she is a minor then she holds no rights to terminate it, says Nipun. A pregnant minor will need the consent of her legal guardian to be able to get an abortion.

Teenage victims of child marriage

“However, even this clause[consent for teenage abortion] gets problematic when we come to the subject of child marriage.”  He adds, “In a step that empowers women, the law had decided that marriages in the age frame of 15 to 18 years are considered voidable. This means that the woman holds the right to nullify the marriage when she attains majority.”  But what about the cases when the pregnancy ensues in that time period?

While the age of a consenting female has been raised to 18, the law has not been revised in case of a married minor girl. The Child Marriage Restraint Act has given the right to consent post 16 years to women. So, this two-year discrepancy raises another set of problems.

“Now, even for a married minor girl who gets pregnant and also has the legal right to consent because she is over 16, she can NOT get aborted without the permission of her legal guardian,” Nipun explains.

Changes required

“I think there is one drastic mistake that the law has made, which is the increase in age of consent from 16 years to 18 years. I think when the woman attains the age of 16 years, she is perfectly capable of making her own decision. If you only relegate the law to its former self, that reduces the age to 16, then the law is fine,” says Nipun.

H/T: The Times of India 

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