India's top court rules sex with an underage wife is rape

India's top court rules sex with an underage wife is rape

The judgement is also likely to have a bearing on the criminality of marital rape, an issue that is being widely debated across the country.

Accordingly, the exemption clause now reads-"sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under eighteen years of age, is not rape".

"It is a landmark ruling which comes as a win for all those fighting for child rights, violence against children, etc".

"In developing countries, the leading cause of death for young girls between the age of 15 and 18 is early pregnancy", the Bill read, adding that the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child suggests the minimum age for marriage should be 18. That penal code provision was in violation of laws establishing the legal age of marriage at 18 for women. It had even the effect of turning a blind eye to trafficking of the minor girl children in the guise of marriage.

The proportion of the married minors among the girls hovered around 2% across the communities, suggesting that religious faith is not a marker in the practice of child marriages.

"I have also discussed it with religious scholars and they also believe that girls can be married before the age of 18 according to Islam, so these kinds of bills cannot be passed", he said in the Senate Wednesday. "Since the implementation will have to be done by the police, they should be adequately trained so that they can not use a lacunae in the ruling for not implementing it in the right spirit".

The landmark judgment by the Supreme Court striking down a law that allowed men to have sex with their minor wives has been welcomed by women's activists with the hope that the court would take cognizance of marital rape as well. Marital rape is not a crime in India, where the government has said criminalising marital rape could destabalise marriages and make men vulnerable to harrassment by their wives.

The two judges wrote separate judgments totalling 127 pages.

With this judgment, considered by experts as trigger to declaring child marriage void ab initio, the court ended the decades-old disparity between Exception 2 to Section 375 IPC and other child protection laws.

"Merely because something is going on for a long time is no ground to legitimize and legalize an activity which is per se illegal and a criminal offence", Gupta said.

Pakistan's Senate has struck down legislation governing the minimum age girls can marry, saying a Bill to increase the legal age from 16 to 18 was un-Islamic. However, if she was below 18 years of age but more than 15 years and married, then there was no offence of rape.

"The minor wife can complain against the husband within one year", the Supreme Court said, according to NDTV.