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SC terms sex with wife below 18 a rape; Child Marriage Prohibition Act gets new lease of life

Wednesday October 11, 2017 12:00 PM, ummid.com & Agencies

SC on sex with minor wife

New Delhi:
Relying on the Child Marriage Prohibition Act, the Supreme Court of India on Wednesday removed the exception in the law for men married to girls who are underage but above 15 and said from henceforth sex with wife below 18-years-of age will be an offence.

"If a man has sexual intercourse with a wife who is below 18 years, it is an offence. The minor wife can complain against the husband within one year," the two-judge bench said,

Stating that the exception in the rape law is discriminatory, capricious and arbitrary, the court expressed concern over the practice of child marriage, saying social justice laws are not implemented with the spirit they had been enacted in.

“The exception in rape law under the IPC is contrary to other statutes, violates bodily integrity of girl child,” the bench said.

A man having sex with a girl below 18 - with or without her consent - is defined as a crime Under the Indian Penal Code (IPC). However, an exception is made if the girl is his wife and not below 15. With today's court ruling the exception is illegal.

Independent Thought, the petitioner, had pointed out that there is a conflict in the law for sex with underage girls and with girls who are married.

The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) defines those who are below 18 years old as children. The petitioner argued that under the law, a man is not considered guilty if he has sex with a child above 15. This, when child marriage is illegal.

Despite the restrictions in law child marriage is very common in India. Studies done on the subject have concluded that the minor girls are exploited and abused in the name of marriage.


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