Published: Thu, October 12, 2017
Global | By Shelia Dennis

Congress supports verdict on sex with underage wife

Congress supports verdict on sex with underage wife

However the government, responding to a plea filed before the apex court by the NGO Independent Thought, defended the Section 375 exception in the Supreme Court in August. "It violates bodily integrity of the girl child", said the court. What is the point of a Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Andolan if the girl is married off at 15 itself, " said Swati Maliwal, chairperson, Delhi Child Welfare.

The high court also requested that federal and state governments take steps to prohibit child marriage.

"Should this traditional practice still continue?"

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The top court said that different and irrational standards have been laid down for the treatment of the girl child by her husband and it is necessary to harmonise the provisions of various statutes.

India's apex court has passed a historic judgment that seeks to resolve an anomaly in the rape laws that distinguished between the age of consent and the legal age of marriage. It has persuaded Parliament to convert what is otherwise universally accepted as a heinous crime into a legitimate activity for the purposes of Section 375 of the IPC if the exploiter or abuser is the husband of the girl child. As they pointed out, the law is at odds with other laws like The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) and the legal age of marriage.

Therefore, keeping the stark reality in mind that child marriages are still rampant in India despite being illegal, the SC, with this judgement has struck off the earlier law that allowed a husband to have consensual or non-consensual sex with his minor bride.

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However, after the "unfortunate" December 16 gangrape incident, the Parliament in 2013 raised the age of consent to 18 years.

Child marriage remains widespread in India, although the proportion of child marriages as a proportion of total marriages has fallen, from 47 percent in 2006 to 27 percent in 2016. However, an exception is made if the girl is his wife and not below 15. Such a girl is required to repudiate her marriage before she attains majority and she can only repudiate the marriage, if the marriage has not been consummated. At this age, girls are immature and they are not mentally prepared for sex. Agreed. But how is sexual intercourse with an adult woman without her consent not a violation of HER fundamental right?

"This is also not in consonance with the provisions of PCMA, according to which marriage of a child bride below the age of 15 years is void and there is no question of seeking a divorce".

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