It was International Girl Child Day yesterday and our honourable justice authority- The Supreme Court of India passed a landmark judgement about the wellbeing of every girl child or precisely the girls who get married before the age of 18. The apex court asserted that sexual intercourse with a ‘minor wife’ is ‘rape’.
Image Source: ANI on Twitter
What is it?
The justice made a fair point by saying that a child is a child whether she is from the streets, abandoned, unmarried or married for that matter and therefore, the man who has sex with his wife who is under the age of 18 years faces criminal prosecution. Supreme Court decreed that a girl child below the age of 18 cannot be treated as a commodity. She has every right over her body and therefore she can deny sexual intercourse to her husband.
How it came into being?
As per our laws, an unmarried girl child can prosecute the one who tried to have non- consensual sex with her, but a married girl child aged between 15 and 18 years of age could not do that. The Exception 2 to Section 375 (rape) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) allowed the husband of a girl child (between 15 and 18 years of age) blanket liberty and freedom to have non-consensual sexual intercourse with her. The girl child’s consent was of no concern and the husband wasn’t punished in such cases. Noida-based NGO ‘Independent Thought’ found it unfair and in violation of the rights of women in India and therefore filed a petition against it in 2013.
However, the judgement received many questions from people on Twitter:
People raised concerns about the fact that child marriage is already a crime, then how does this judgement make sense? Yes, child marriage is a ‘criminal offense’ in India but The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006 says that if a ‘minor’ gets married, her marriage can not be considered void. Therefore, the apex court’s verdict is for the protection of minors who are already married and suffering. No longer is the man protected by the law to rape his ‘minor wife’.
Also, a lot of people called it a religious gimmick which will affect Hindus and Muslims differently. The point is, it’s not a religious issue- it’s all about a child being mistreated and it implies equally to Hindus, Muslims and for a girl from any other religion.
Lastly, comes the issue of ‘Marital rape.’ Unfortunately, it still remains unaddressed. However, this historic judgement has revived our hope that the judiciary and the legislative system will come up with another empowering decision in future. But we acknowledge the fact that this decision is a major step in discouraging child marriages in India. What do you think?
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