India Rules Sex With A Child Bride Is Rape, Always

Like so many countries in recent years, India has changed its rape laws for the better, taking a huge step toward protecting women and girls. The Indian Supreme Court ruled that men are not allowed to have sex with girls under 18, even if they are married to them, closing a loophole which allowed grooms to rape child brides.

The age of consent in India is 18, but until now, a provision in the rape laws lowered the age of consent to 15, if the girl was married. But the top court ruled that the loophole was “discriminatory, capricious, and arbitrary”, and “violates the bodily integrity of the girl child.”

Married girls whose husbands sexually assault them will now be able to report the crime, as long as they do so within one year of the assault taking place.

Of course, there are still many barriers—societal, logistical, emotional—which would prevent girls from reporting rape, particularly if the abuser is their spouse. And given India’s high rates of child marriage, many believe the law will be difficult to enforce. Nearly half of Indian girls are married by the time they turn 18, putting the country at number 10 in the world for rates of child marriage.

However, making it illegal to have sex with a minor, regardless of her marital status, is a critical step forward.

Child Marriage Happens in the U.S., Too

Many Americans probably think of child marriage as someone else’s problem, an issue rampant in other parts of the world, but far removed from our everyday lives. The reality is, child marriage is legal in the U.S and it happens way more often than you think. In Florida, for example, a child is married every few days.

In most states, the legal minimum age for marriage is 18. However, 48 states have exceptions to those rules, allowing minors to marry with either parental or judicial consent. Twelve states have no absolute minimum age for marriage, meaning that in 2018 in the United States a 40-year-old man could marry a five-year-old girl and that marriage would be perfectly legal.

Unchained at Last, an advocacy group campaigning against child marriage, estimates that between 2000-2010, about 250,000 underage girls were married in the United States.

These marriages often take place in the context of an unplanned pregnancy or rape, because the girls’ parents believe that’s preferable to an investigation.

As Care2 contributor s.e. smith writes: “This often takes place in the context of conservative Christian households and communities, which can be very insular. Some believe that girls need to be punished for sexual activity, or that communities need to take charge of their own — thus, a pastor who rapes a member of the congregation should be dealt with by the church, not the law.”

Take Action

Child marriage does take place in the U.S., but it doesn’t have to. The best way to protect children is to change the law to close these loopholes. Sign our petition and tell lawmakers to ban child marriage.

Want to make a difference on an issue you find deeply troubling? You, too, can create a Care2 petition, and use this handy guide to get started. You’ll find Care2’s vibrant community of activists ready to step up and help you.

 

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

88 comments

Paulo R
Paulo Reeson2 months ago

very good news on a sickening topic. ty

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Nicole H
Nicole Heindryckx2 months ago

A last one : I went to Chile in 1991 to adopt 2 children of 9 & 11 years. By the time I was there I did not know, but later on the children told me they had an older sister of 14 years, who already had a baby, and was begging in the streets of that small town to gather some food for her child and herself. They did not know where she slept, but most probably in the streets.

In South America, there are so much countries were children are giving birth to children. It is a catastrophe. Wonder when / who will do something against this... Most of these countries are extremely catholic. Why does the Church not provide some help for them, and give the children an implanted pill which keeps them safe for 6 months. Of course, they must be retraced then, so the procedure can be done again, otherwise it has been to no avail.

There is still so much to do in this world for women, but especially for children, who are neglected, beaten, kicked, or who have to work as slaves or are sent on the street by their parents to be for some money so daddy can have his bottles of beer !!

When I see people like Fuehrer TRUMPF and others who even don't know how many billions they have, my blood is boiling !!!

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Nicole Heindryckx
Nicole Heindryckx2 months ago

MY GOD, A pity I can not sign a petition 10 times or more. I would do this here ! That in the United States there are in 2018 (YES THIS YEAR) STILL 12 states where marriage between a young child of 5 years or so, and an old guy of 40+ is totally legal makes me speechless. And what happens if that old donkey has sex with that little girl ? Is he then a Paedophile ?? or a child molester ?? Or just normal, because it is her husband ?? And the U.S. call themselves a developed country.
Of course I know that in many African and Asian countries, children are still married to older guys. This has mainly to do with the bridal gift. People only give animals as bridal gifts. And when you are in bad need of some goats or camels, or even chickens, it is time to have a wedding.
I have never understood why an organization like UNICEF, who should protect the rights and needs of children, have never done anything serious about this, as the situation remains unchanged. Neither have they apparently done something serious against this muslim tradition (sorry forgot the English term and can't find it in my dictionary) where the clitoris of young girls is removed - without any sedation - and these girls have to walk home for several miles, with blood running over their legs. This is so horrible to see, and when I here them crying, I nearly can feel the pain. A DISGUSTING & HORRIFYING ANIMAL WE HUMANS ARE !!!!

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Nicole Heindryckx
Nicole Heindryckx2 months ago

I knew it is common in India that very young girls are married, even to much older men. These are arranged marriages, not out of mutual love.
That the Indian Supreme Court ruled that sex with a girl of under 18 years with a boy or elderly man is considered as rape is A STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION. But if this child is married with that man, it is ABSURD !! Between having a new law, and the possible application of it, there is a VERY BIG DISTANCE. Even if both parents are fully aware of that new law and they, as well as the couple know that marriage involves having sex, it will be nearly impossible to bring your husband before Court for RAPE !! People of the Supreme Court should have used their brains, and first have issued a law NOT allowing girls of under 18 to get married !!
How many girls will sue their husband ? What will her & HIS family do?? The first girl, who don't want sex before she's 18, will have the whole community against her, and also her family will be threatened .. They risk to be shunt from the Community. The whole family will have to move to another place.
They are right, in not wanting a child of 14 having sex, and getting pregnant, but when you are married, it's not obvious to sleep together but not having sex for another 4 years. Her husband and his parents & family want to see babies coming.. otherwise they will all think she is NOT healthy !!

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Tania N
Tania N2 months ago

Thank you for the info

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Tania N
Tania N2 months ago

Thank you for the info

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Tania N
Tania N2 months ago

it's really sickening that there are still places where people could marry kids!! Can't stand this injustice!!!

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Tania N
Tania N2 months ago

Finally some improvement!!

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Jan S
Past Member 2 months ago

thanks for the update

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Tania N
Tania N2 months ago

Thanks for sharing

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