rape

In a historic verdict given on Wednesday, Supreme Court has held that having sex with a wife below the age of 18 is a crime and will amount to rape. The court scrapped out the exception clause in the law which gave provision to a man for having sex with his minor wife without her consent and ‘what was acceptable years ago will not be accepted from now onwards’.  The court has also expressed a concern over the issue of child marriage and its effects in the country. The court, however, didn’t pass any statement regarding marital rape.

The Child Marriage Prohibition Act under Indian Penal Code was also taken into consideration to reach this conclusion. “If a man tried to have a sexual intercourse with his minor wife, without her consent, it will be considered as a crime. It must be noted that the age of consent in India is 18 years. The minor wife must complain against her husband within the time period of 1 year”, said the two-bench jurisdiction of judges that are going to impact lakhs of Indian brides who got married before 18.

A petition by NGO Independent Thought was made to Supreme Court mentioning that having a sexual intercourse without her consent is against the interest of a child girl. They argued that the previous exemptions of rape( the one that permits intrusive sexual intercourse with a girl child aged between 15 and 18 years if she is married) are against the violations of the international conventions to which India is also a participant. Further, the court gave orders to the State Executive Bodies to take proactive steps to prohibit child marriage in any part of the country.

The center had prevented the provision granted to the men of having sexual intercourse with their underage wives stating, “Time has changed and just because child marriages are still practiced in many parts of India this tradition must not be accepted in any case. It is imperative to protect the institution of marriage; otherwise, the children from such marriages will also suffer.” The verdict was announced considering several socio-economic aspects of these practices on the rate of growth in India as well.

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