India's Supreme Court rules sex with wife below 18 is rape

Source: Xinhua| 2017-10-11 20:13:26|Editor: liuxin
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NEW DELHI, Oct. 11 (Xinhua) -- India's Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that sex with a wife below 18 years of age amounts to rape, a landmark judgment aimed at stopping child marriages.

"If a man has sexual intercourse with a wife who is below 18 years, it is an offence. The minor wife can complain against the husband within one year," it said.

The court also said that the exception in Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code, which did not criminalize sex with a minor wife aged between 15 and 17 years, violated the Indian Constitution.

"Exception in rape law is discriminatory, capricious and arbitrary... It violates bodily integrity of the girl child," it ruled.

India has 23 million child brides. But rape and child marriage laws disagree on consent age.

The Indian Penal Code defines sex with a girl below 18 years - even with her consent - as a crime. However, an exception is made if the girl is his wife and between 15 and 17 years.

The court's order came in the wake of a petition by Independent Thought, an non-governmental organization, that had flagged the contradiction in law.