Sexual intercourse with an underage wife is rape, India’s Supreme Court rules

India’s Supreme Court has just opposed the legal loophole that allowed for sex with underage wives.

“Sexual intercourse with a girl below 18 years of age is rape regardless of whether she is married or not,” the Court said in the decision from October 11, 2017.

In India, the minimum age for marriage and consensual sex is 18. Despite that, one in three women in India marries before reaching the legal age of 18. In addition, the criminal code does not recognise marital rape as offense. As a result, raped underage brides are left unprotected before the law.

The ruling corrects the issue, but there is a long way before any real advancement can be achieved. The enforcement requires commitment from policy-makers to create mechanisms that will help abused brides to come forward. Furthermore, the Court still needs to address the issue of marital rape in general.

Photographed above is Neelam, 19: “If I get a chance, then I would like to study further… I wanted to study further before marriage, but my parents got me married, that is the reason I could not study further.”

Read the ruling of the Supreme Court here.
Read The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act here.

Photo and source of the quotation: Poulomi Basu/CIFF.

 

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