Sex with wife aged below 18 years will be considered rape, rules apex court
GN Bureau | October 11, 2017
The supreme court on Wednesday ruled that sexual intercourse with wife below 18 years of age will be considered rape.
The bitter truth is that child marriage is still taking place with chilling frequency in some parts of the country.
While there has been a decline in the incidence of child marriage nationally (from 54 per cent in 1992-93 to 27 per cent in 2016) and in nearly all states, the pace of change remains slow, especially for girls in the age group 15-18 years, said a UNICEF document.
Child marriage is more prevalent in rural areas (48 per cent) than in urban areas (29 per cent) . There are also variations across different groups, particularly excluded communities, castes and tribes – although some ethnic groups, such as tribal groups, have lower rates of child marriage compared with the majority population.
In general, rates of child marriage are highest in the central and western parts of India and lower in the eastern and southern parts of the country.
Other states that have an incidence of child marriage higher than national average are: Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh and Tripura. However, even in states with overall lower prevalence of child marriage, there are often pockets of high prevalence.
Girls married as children are more likely to drop out of school, have a low-paid job and limited decision-making power at home. A girl with 10 years of education has a six times lower chance of being pushed into marriage before she is 18.
They are also likely to face violence, abuse and exposure to HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases because they have fewer skills and less negotiating power. Nearly 13 per cent of married girls between 15-19 years of age experience sexual violence by their husbands compared with 10 per cent of women experiencing such violence between the age group of 30-39.
Although child marriage is declining, the rate of decline is slow.
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