Friday, October 13, 2017

Sex with underage wife is rape, Indian supreme court rules

The Guardian (Oct. 11, 2017): Sex with underage wife is rape, Indian supreme court rules

On Wednesday, India's supreme court ruled against an sexual assault law exception which allowed men to have sex with girls as young as 15 years old if they were married. Advocates who brought this case said that the criminal code exception to rape, encouraged child marriage. Justice Madan Lokur wrote in his decision, "we are left with absolutely no other option but to harmonise the system of laws relating to children."

A recent study showed that approximately 12 million children in India under the age of 10 were married. Most of these children are "girls from poor, rural families with little or no education." Promoters of marriage exception in the Indian government had continuously argued that child marriages result from social and economic conditions and should not be fixed with laws, but rather development programs. 

Early marriage is a deep rooted part of the culture in many Indian communities. "Mass child marriages occur in many parts of the country on days considered auspicious in the Hindu calendar, such as the Akshaya Tritiya festival." Kriti Bharti, an activist who is known for preventing thousands of child marriages, was pleased by the decision. She notes that parents often pose challenges to her work. She describes this scenario:

“A minor girl being abused by her husband will tell her mother: ‘I’m feeling pain. [Sex] is uncomfortable. Please help me,’” she said. “But mothers say: ‘It’s your destiny. You are a female so you have to go through this.’”

Bharti is concerned that this law will be difficult to enforce, but will have positive outcomes as girls can now go to the police and the criminal justice system to say they are being exploited and abused.

 

 

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/reproductive_rights/2017/10/sex-with-underage-wife-is-rape-indian-supreme-court-rules.html

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