In­dia court says sex with a child is al­ways rape

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

NEW DELHI: Sex with a mi­nor amounts to rape even if the cou­ple are mar­ried, In­dia’s top court ruled yes­ter­day, clos­ing a le­gal loop­hole that had al­lowed some per­pe­tra­tors to es­cape pu­n­ish­ment. The age of con­sent and thus the le­gal age for girls to marry in In­dia is 18, but mil­lions of chil­dren are made to do so when they are much younger, par­tic­u­larly in poor ru­ral ar­eas.

In­dia’s rape laws specif­i­cally ex­clude mar­ried cou­ples, which his­tor­i­cally meant that even non-con­sen­sual sex with a mi­nor could not be classed as rape if it took place within mar­riage. But the Supreme Court said that con­tra­dicted In­dia’s strict laws on the age of con­sent. It ruled that po­lice should in fu­ture pros­e­cute cases of mar­i­tal rape if the vic­tim was un­der 18 and reg­is­tered a com­plaint within a year of the in­ci­dent.

Vikram Sri­vas­tava, a lawyer who pe­ti­tioned the court on the is­sue, wel­comed the rul­ing which he said would give child vic­tims some pro­tec­tion. “The judg­ment to­day in two lines says that if any­one now mar­ries a girl child be­low the age of 18 years and if the girl com­plains within a year of sex­ual in­ter­course, then that per­son can be pros­e­cuted for rape,” he said in com­ments broad­cast on the NDTV news net­work.

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