India

Sex with wife below 18 will be considered rape: SC

11 Oct 2017 | By Gogona Saikia
Landmark ruling: 'Sex with underage wife is rape'

In a major decision, the SC has ruled that sexual intercourse with a wife under 18 years of age will be considered rape.

This comes two months after the government defended its controversial stand in the SC saying men can force their wife aged 15-17 for sex without consequences.

Ironically, according to Indian law, marriage of a woman under 18 is considered child marriage.

In context: Landmark ruling: 'Sex with underage wife is rape'

11 Oct 2017Sex with wife below 18 will be considered rape: SC

CentreThe government's controversial stand on rape of minor wives

Under Section 375(2) of the IPC, a man can force his wife for sex if she's above 15 without fearing legal consequences.

According to the government, this clause helped protect the "institution of marriage". Otherwise, children from such marriages will suffer."

Counsel Binu Tamta also argued how marriage between minors wasn't "void", but "voidable".

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'Why should a (married) minor suffer due to inconsistent laws?'

Arguments'Why should a (married) minor suffer due to inconsistent laws?'

A petition by NGO Independent Thought challenged Section 375(2). It raised the lack of consistency in defining a 'child' in marriage laws and rape laws.

It argued the same law criminalized consensual sex by an unmarried girl aged 15-17. "Then why should a (married) girl of the same age suffer?"

According to government data, there are 23mn child brides in India.

JudiciaryWoman has to file complaint within a year: SC

The SC had wondered how the exception in rape laws wasn't an incentive for child marriage. "This reflects badly on the government," Justice Deepak Gupta had said about the 23mn child brides.

Quashing the current exception, the court ruled that sex with an underage woman, even if she's a wife, will be criminal provided the victim files a complaint within a year.