Sex with a wife below 18 is rape, the Supreme Court said today in a landmark decision to end an exception in the law for men married to girls who are above 15.
“If a man has sexual intercourse with a wife who is below 18 years, it is an offence. The minor wife can complain against the husband within one year,” said the court, declaring that lowering the legal age for sex to 15 if the girl is married is unconstitutional.
“Exception in rape law is discriminatory, capricious and arbitrary…It violates bodily integrity of the girl child,” said the court.
The Indian Penal Code or IPC defines sex with a girl below 18 – with or without her consent – as a crime. However, an exception is made if the girl is his wife and not below 15.