Indian Supreme Court rules child bride sex is rape

Supreme Court on Wednesday said the exception in the rape law was unconstitutional

Supreme Court on Wednesday said the exception in the rape law was unconstitutional

According to the IPC, Section 2 of Article 375, "A man is said to commit rape if he penetrates his penis, to any extent, into the vagina, mouth, urethra or anus of a woman or makes her do so with him or any other person against her will or without her consent".

If the honourable court and our elected representatives are of the view that recognising marital rape would lead to destabilisation of marriage, how is it different for an underage?

Child marriage is illegal in India, but remains widespread throughout the country, especially in rural areas.

This means married girls who are under 18 can accuse their husbands of rape, however they have to do so within one year of the alleged incident. "But how come, a Minor Girl be Legally Married?" asked Aarti.

Expressing concern over the practice of child marriage in the country, a bench comprising Justice Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said social justice laws in the country had not been implemented with the spirit they have been enacted.

BBC reporter Geeta Pandey said a married girl is unlikely to have the courage to speak out against her husband, particularly if she has been married with parental consent. Before Wednesday's ruling, there was inconsistency in the laws: legal consenting age was clear, but another clause stated that a man could have sex with a girl as young as 15 as long she was his wife.


The Supreme Court on Wednesday, October 11, ruled that sexual intercourse with a minor wife is a criminal offense and will be considered.

The Delhi High Court is now hearing petitions asking that marital rape be recognised as a criminal offence. But same would not be the situation if the parties are known to each other are intellectually/academically proficient and if in the past there have been physical contact.

Poonam Muttreja, executive director of the Population Foundation of India, said the verdict was a timely step in the right direction for the discourse on marital rape. Can she be deprived of her right to say "yes" or "no" to having sex with her husband, even if she has consented for the marriage? Thankfully the latter part of the law has been changed but unfortunately, India still follows the first half of the law. Strangely, while prohibiting child marriages and criminalising it, such marriages had not been declared void; and what is worse, intercourse within a child marriage was not rape under IPC, though it was a punishable offence under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012. It is high time that the government takes that message on board.

It is against the interest of the girl child as well, contended the petitioners.

Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhary, the Minister of State for Home Affairs stated in April 2015, "The concept of marital rape, as understood internationally, can not be suitably applied in the Indian context due to various factors, including levels of education, illiteracy, poverty myriad social customs and values, religious beliefs, [and] the mindset of the society to treat the marriage as sacrament".

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