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A draft bill, which will soon be introduced in the cabinet, says consensual sex between children aged 16 to 18 is not a criminal offence, Women and Child Development Minister Krishna Tirath said Tuesday.Tirath refuted a media report which stated that the draft Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Bill, 2010, sought to bring down to 12 the age of consensual, non-penetrative sex.

“I want to make it clear that the women and child development ministry’s draft bill says that if there is consensual sex between children of age 16-18, it’s not an offence. Below the age of 16 is an offence,” Tirath told reporters here.

“And if the act is non-consensual, then it’s rape. There is no plan of bringing down the age bracket to 12,” she added.

In a clarification statement with regard to the media report, the minister said the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) had recommended that the age of consensual sex be brought down to 12, but this was not included in the draft bill of the ministry.

Tirath said while the bill is ready and will “hopefully” be introduced in the cabinet soon, she has also asked the states for their opinion on the same.

“The ministry had asked for the views of state governments on the draft bill in December 2010. I had a conference with the state ministers Jan 28 where this was discussed and their views are taken into consideration,” she said

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