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India's top court protects child brides

13 October 2017

A few days ago, the Supreme Court in a landmark judgement ruled against this by stating that a man having sex with his minor wife (with or without consent) is rape.

The judgment was delivered on the International Day of the Girl Child and will go a long way in curbing trafficking and child marriages. The rape of a married girl child (between 15 and 18 years) is not rape under the IPC and therefore not an offence in view of Exception 2 to Section 375 thereof but it is an offence of aggravated penetrative sexual assault under Section 5 (n) of the POCSO Act and punishable under Section 6 of that Act.

Pakistan's Senate has struck down legislation governing the minimum age girls can marry, saying a Bill to increase the legal age from 16 to 18 was un-Islamic. "In addition, I would urge the courts to take cognisance of the predicament of adult women who live in fear of rape of sexual violence at the hands of their spouse and in the security of her home, " she said.

In February this year, Pakistan's Parliament sought to toughen the punishment for child marriage by introducing a mandatory five-year prison sentence and a fine of up to one million rupees ($10,000) for those caught marrying any girl under the age of 16. Under the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939, if a minor girl under the age of 15 years is married under Muslim law, she can obtain a decree of dissolution of marriage before she attains the age of 18 years provided that the marriage has not been consummated.

"Hence, criminalising the consummation of a marriage with such a serious offence such as rape would not be appropriate and practical", the government argued, according the Times of India. The mission statement outlined the pressure on child brides to bear children. Despite improvement in literacy levels, child marriages are still common in different parts of the country.

"We are left with absolutely no other option but to harmonise the system of laws relating to children", Justice Madan Lokur said in his decision.

Rehman Malik said the bill, which suggests increasing the minimum age for girls to marry from 16 to 18, was contrary to Islamic injunctions. I wholeheartedly welcome the SC ruling that reiterates the need to safeguard the rights of girls and women, Ms Muttreja added.

India's top court protects child brides