India's top court rules sex with an underage wife is rape

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Pakistan throws out 'un-Islamic' minimum marriage age proposal

" "(A girl child) can not be treated as a commodity having no say over her body or someone who has no right to deny sexual intercourse to her husband".

According to Girls Not Brides, an organization campaigning to end child marriage, Pakistan's National Assembly has rejected draft of the Child Marriage Restraint Act in the past, most recently in May this year.

Accordingly, the exemption clause now reads-"sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under eighteen years of age, is not rape". However, the judges refrained from making any observation with regard to the marital rape of a woman who is 18 years of age and above.

Pakistan's Senate has struck down legislation governing the minimum age girls can marry, saying a Bill to increase the legal age from 16 to 18 was un-Islamic. The ruling, which has removed the discrepancies in the rape law, comes as a victory for all those fighting for child rights and justice and is expected to go a long way in checking child marriages. "Their interpretation is wrong", she said, adding that doctors clearly advise against the marriage of young girls for health reasons. But I can not say how it will be implemented.

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The centre had maintained that Parliament had fixed the age of 15 years, keeping the social and economic conditions of the country in mind. Marital rape is not a crime in India, where the government has said criminalising marital rape could destabalise marriages and make men vulnerable to harrassment by their wives.

In a 127-page judgment, justice Gupta disagreed with the centre's stand on child marriage and its decision to not criminalize the consummation of child marriages in view of age-old traditions. "Exception in rape law is discriminatory, capricious and arbitrary..." The apex court has rightly rubbished the exceptions granted in the IPC provisions and categorically ruled that sex with a girl below 18 years of age is rape, regardless of her marital status. "That is why I suggested the minimum age for getting married be raised to 18", Dawn quoted Sehar. "In addition, I would urge the courts to take cognisance of the predicament of adult women who live in fear of rape of sexual violence at the hands of their spouse and in the security of her home, " she said.

Under provisions of POCSO Act, a physical relationship with a minor constitutes rape and this does not exclude the relationship between a man and his minor wife.

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