The Lok Sabha has finally passed the anti-rape bill fixing the age for consensual sex at 18 years, hoping to stem offences against women in the wake of Delhi gang rape protests, which rocked the country in December.
To be known as the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2013, the bill will replace the Presidential Ordinance issued on February 3.
The Bill seeks to make it offensive to have sex without consent, while fixing the age for consent at 18 years. Further, it makes voyeurism and stalking someone punishable.
With the Bill passed in the House, the Indian Penal Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), the Indian Evidence Act and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act — will be amended accordingly.
An offender wil be sentenced to rigourous imprisonment for a term of 20 years that is extendable to life, besides fine. In those cases where the offence has been committed repeatedly, the person may even be senteenced to death.
The Bill seeks to amend the Indian Penal Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure, the Indian Evidence Act and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.
While introducing the Bill, Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said: “Let us honour the braveheart”, referring to the Delhi gang rape victim. “Time has come to send out a loud, clear and deterrent signal that the society will not tolerate such errant behaviour,” he noted.
The Bill also mentioned acid attack as a crime and provided a victim the right to self-defence and kept the punishable term at a minimum 10-year jail term for acid attackers.
The only objection raised to the bill during the debate in Lok Sabha came from Sharad Yadav (JD-U) who said that the Bill may make it difficult for women to get jobs. “People will be scared to give jobs to women,” he said, recollecting the way the anti-dowry law was misued earlier.