India’s Supreme Court rules sex with wife below 18 is rape

New Delhi –  India’s Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that having sex with a wife below 18 years of age amounts to rape, a landmark judgment aimed at stopping child marriages.

“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,” it said.

The court also said that the exception in Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code, which did not criminalise sex with a minor wife aged between 15 and 17 years, violated the Indian Constitution.

“Exception in rape law is discriminatory, capricious and arbitrary.

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“It violates bodily integrity of the girl child,” the court ruled.

India has 23 million child brides; however rape and child marriage laws disagree on consent age.

The Indian Penal Code defines sex with a girl below 18 years even with her consent as a crime.

However, an exception is made if the girl is his wife and between 15 and 17 years.

The court’s order came in the wake of a petition by Independent Thought, a non-governmental organisation that had flagged the contradiction in law. (Xinhua/NAN)

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