Skip to main content
February 22, 2018

India Supreme Court rules sex with child bride is rape

The age of consent in India is 18, but marital rape is not considered an offence. AGENCIES
The age of consent in India is 18, but marital rape is not considered an offence. AGENCIES

India's Supreme Court has struck down a legal clause that permits men to have sex with their underage wives.

The clause, which was part of India's law on rape, said intercourse between a man and his wife was permissible as long as she was over 15 years of age.

The legal age of consent and marriage in India is 18 but marital rape is not considered an offence.

The verdict has been hailed by women's rights activists but correspondents say the order will be difficult to enforce.

The judgement said that girls under 18 would be able to charge their husbands with rape, as long as they complained within one year of being forced to have sexual relations.

"This is a landmark judgement that corrects a historical wrong against girls. How could marriage be used as a criterion to discriminate against girls?" Vikram Srivastava, the founder of Independent Thought, one of the main petitioners in the case, told the BBC.

However, the BBC's Geeta Pandey in Delhi says that while welcome, the order will be difficult to implement in a country where child marriage is still rampant.

"Courts and police cannot monitor people's bedrooms and a minor girl who is already married, almost always with the consent of her parents, will not usually have the courage to go to the police or court and file a case against her husband," our correspondent says.

India's government says the practice of child marriage is "an obstacle to nearly every developmental goal: eradicating poverty and hunger; achieving universal primary education; promoting gender equality; protecting children's lives; and improving women's health".

  • Thank you for participating in discussions on The Star, Kenya website. You are welcome to comment and debate issues, however take note that:
  • Comments that are abusive; defamatory; obscene; promote or incite violence, terrorism, illegal acts, hate speech, or hatred on the grounds of race, ethnicity, cultural identity, religious belief, disability, gender, identity or sexual orientation, or are otherwise objectionable in the Star’s  reasonable discretion shall not be tolerated and will be deleted.
  • Comments that contain unwarranted personal abuse will be deleted.
  • Strong personal criticism is acceptable if justified by facts and arguments.
  • Deviation from points of discussion may lead to deletion of comments.
  • Failure to adhere to this policy and guidelines may lead to blocking of offending users. Our moderator’s decision to block offending users is final.
Poll of the day