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SC strikes down exemption

Judgement opens window for law on marital rape

Gulf News

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has struck down Exception 2 to Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code, which exempts marital rape of girls between the age of 15 and 18 from the purview of rape.

“With this verdict, the court has ended the disparity between this exception to Section 375, which allows a husband to have sexual relationship with his 15-year-old wife, and the definition of ‘child’ in recent laws such as the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, which includes any person below the age of 18. Indeed it was long overdue,” says Delhi-based social commentator Ranjana Jha, 48.

The judgement, though the Bench had said time and again that it did not want to delve into the issue of marital rape, now inevitably opens a window for law on marital rape.

“The court had rightly questioned the reason for Parliament to create an exception in the penal law declaring that sexual intercourse by a man with his minor wife is not rape. It said the provision granting immunity from prosecution violates Article 14, 15 and 21 of the Indian Constitution. Noting that law cannot compromise with the bodily integrity of minor girls, the apex court only specified that the discrimination between a married girl child and an unmarried girl child is artificial. I believe it was only timely and practical,” says Delhi-based social commentator Ashok Lahiri, 52.

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