Married minor girl can't be treated as commodity: SC

Married minor girl can't be treated as commodity: SC

Presently, the Indian Penal Code (IPC) defines that any sexual practice with a minor girl whose age is below 18 - with or without her consent - will amount to rape.

In India, activists say it is hard for victims to speak out about sexual violence by their husbands. However, the court clearly stated it would not hear anything or comment on marital rape - a type of sexual intercourse with one's spouse without the spouse's consent. "If this is rape then girl's father is also a culprit".

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.

How can a girl who is not mentally and physically fit to give consent till she reaches 18 years, be considered capable of giving consent for sexual activities before the said age.

A bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta - in separate but concurring judgments - said the exception was "arbitrary, discriminatory and capricious".

"An early marriage takes away the self-esteem and confidence of a girl child and subjects her, in a sense, to sexual abuse".

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The top court on Wednesday yet again reminded that child marriage is illegal and can not be assumed to be legal though it has been going on for ages.

It is freakish how the court has raised an objection to only criminalise rape with a wife who is a minor but on the other hand, gave men a free pass to rape their wives just because they were married off at the legal age.

The Supreme Court clarified that it has not dealt with the issue of marital rape as it was not raised by respective parties.

Further if they do have sexual intercourse, which by this order becomes an offence, given the Section 19 and 20 of the POCSO Act, will it now be mandatory to report sexual intercourse in child marriage as well? She will undergo mental trauma which will have an everlasting effect on her and there will be unwanted pregnancies which will have too much complications.

The bench dealt with another anomalous situation and said that if the husband has forcible sex with such a girl, the marriage is consummated and the girl child is deprived of her right to get the marriage annulled.

India's government has called the issue of its 23 million teenage brides "an obstacle to almost every developmental goal: eradicating poverty and hunger; achieving universal primary education; promoting gender equality; protecting children's lives; and improving women's health".

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