LANDMARK RULING ON CHILD BRIDES BY INDIA’S TOP COURT ONCE AGAIN!
From time to time when you least expect comes a great judgment!
And I am alluding to India’s top court ruling that sex with child bride is rape in landmark ruling for women’s rights
Yesterday India’s Supreme Court ruled that a man is committing rape if he engages in sexual intercourse with his wife who is aged between 15 and 18, a landmark decision that will affect millions of child brides.
For the record, the legal age of consent in India is 18 years.
They are strict and the law regards even consensual sex with a woman under 16 as rape, but an exception had been made in the past for intercourse between a man and his wife who is between 15 and 18.
“If a man has sexual intercourse with a wife who is below 18 years, it is an offense. The minor wife can complain against the husband within one year,” said the court, adding that lowering the legal age for sex to 15 for a married girl is “unconstitutional”.
The Supreme Court ruled the age of consent was 18 for “all purposes” after hearing a petition by Independent Thought, a non-profit group that sought to criminalize sex with underage wives.
however yesterdays landmark ruling and verdict would not be applied retrospectively, which based its conclusions on India’s Child Marriage Prohibition Act.
One must bear in mind that though illegal, child marriage is deeply rooted in India.
Like many jurisdictions elsewhere there factors such as poverty, weak law enforcement, patriarchal social norms and concerns about family honor are often blamed.
But challenges are there and this is clear from the views of a social activist!
“It is unclear how this judgment will be enforced as child marriages are rampant in tribal societies across India,” said social activist Mustafa of the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi.
It is believed that the implementation of India’s top court ruling will be especially challenging amongst tribal peoples in western Rajasthan state and adjoining Madhya Pradesh province, where hundreds of child marriages are believed to take place every year.
We cannot deny but appreciate that social activists have been campaigning to prevent child marriages through education and economical empowerment.
But the reality in India’s 2011 census showed that whilst child marriage had declined marginally from a decade earlier, more than five million girls were still married before the legal age of 18.
Historically, if asked one finds difficulty answering the exact origin of infant marriages!
But according to claims by social scientists and village elders, they believe that this practice started around the 10th century with the first Muslim invasions that lasted over 700 years.
It was a reaction and fear of the conquering invaders that they would carry off their daughters and as such, rural families began marrying them off at an early age to ensure their safety.