Indian Judiciary has criminalized sex with underage brides

India has made a significant change to its law about rape.

Puja Mahato, Reporter/SCC

India has made a significant change to its law about rape.

Formerly, section 375 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) stated that sex with a girl below 18 years old is rape but the exception stated a man was allowed to have sex with an underage wife, with or without her consent.

On Oct. 18 the Supreme Court criminalized sex between a man and an underage wife and states if a husband has sex with his wife, who is under 15 or 18 –it is considered an act of rape, essentially giving child brides legal protection.

Sukria Hassan, a student at Gokhale Memorial Girls College from India, spoke to North East Valley News about the new rule.

“People would think twice before getting married before their legal age. The practice of child marriage will surely decrease. Child brides will have the power to raise voice against sexual assault,” Hassan said.

According to a 2016 CNN report, India has the highest number of child marriages of any country.

In 2006, approximately 24.6 million females were married under the age of 18.

According to leading Indian newspaper Hindustan Times, the justices Deepak Gupta and Madan Bhimrao Lokur, both judges of the Supreme Court of India gave their opinion about the law and were quoted in a subsequent released statement.

“A girl child cannot be treated as a commodity having no say over her body or someone who has no right to deny sexual intercourse to her husband.”

We spoke to Reni Boediarti, a participant of the Community College Initiative Program and student from Indonesia about the law taken by the Supreme Court of India.

“We need to protect the minor so that they get married in proper age and also can be legal. I strongly agree with the rule of the Supreme Court and their community. This can protect minor’s rights more proper in the community. I believe rape happens because of lack of respect to the gender itself,” Boediarti said.