Congress supports verdict on sex with underage wife

Pauline Gross
October 13, 2017

The Supreme Court held that the Exception should be read down as: "Sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under eighteen years, is not rape".

"This is a timely and positive step in the right direction for the discourse on marital rape and the subject of consent, said Poonam Muttreja, executive director of the Population Foundation of India".

Child marriages are prevalent in India, especially among the rural poor.

Striking down the provision of criminal law that permitted sex with wife aged between 15 and 18, the apex court said that age of consent for sex can not be reduced from 18 years and that the husband is liable to be prosecuted if the woman files a complaint within a year of the sexual act. The clause said that intercourse or sexual act by a man with his wife, not below 15 years, is not rape.

As per the data, 13 percent under-18 girls in Delhi were married which has come down from 22.7 percent recorded in 2005-06. It is extremely disturbing that while countries like USA, Canada, France and Brazil have taken a step forward and criminalised marital rape, the Indian law assumes that just because a woman is married at the legal age, she automatically gives her consent to have sex.

Sex with a wife who is less than 18 is illegal and will now be treated as rape, India's Supreme Court has ruled, stripping yet one more legal protection from the already illegal practice of taking a child bride.

"How will one ensure that the man is not having intercourse with his wife?"

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Wednesday's landmark decision, which coincided with International Day of the Girl Child, also raised the age of consent for all women to 18.

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

Rape is recognised as an offence against the very nature of consent as well as against the society under the Indian Penal Code. 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.

Here the question that arises is, how can anyone decide if the no is a feeble no or not and whether it was really a no or a not be assumed as yes.? In India, legally, marital rape does not exist. Thankfully the latter part of the law has been changed but unfortunately, India still follows the first half of the law. It is high time that the government takes that message on board.

Such a girl child has no recourse to law under the provisions of the IPC... From now on, regardless of religion, a marriage can not be consummated if the wife is a minor.

Holding this distinction was also "contrary to the philosophy behind some statutes, the bodily integrity of the girl child and her reproductive choice", he said it also "turns a blind eye to trafficking of the girl child and surely each one of us must discourage trafficking which is such a frightful social evil".

Other reports by GizPress

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