Press Statement - Supreme Court rules sex with a child bride is now rape

Posted:17th Oct 2017

Child rights organisation Plan International welcomes the announcement from India’s Supreme Court that sex with a child bride is no longer permissible under the law.

However, it cautions that this is only one of many steps that must be taken to protect girls from sexual abuse.
Bhagyashri Dengle, Executive Director of Plan India, said:

“Rape is an act of horrific violence for which there is no excuse. It causes severe physical, emotional and psychological harm, which can last a lifetime. There is no question that it is a crime.

“Although the legal age of marriage in India is 18 for girls, almost 50 per cent are still married off before that age. The decision by India’s Supreme Court to recognise that sex with a child bride is rape means that girls who are married off before the age of 18 are now further protected by the law, and we commend the Supreme Court for taking this decision.

“However, ensuring that the law is properly implemented is absolutely imperative if we are to fully protect children, and it will be a huge challenge to enforce this law in the communities where child marriage is still rampant. To eradicate child marriage, we need a wholesale change in attitudes, and the overturning of the patriarchal norms and traditions.

Nonetheless, this is a landmark judgement and a milestone in the movement towards protecting child rights particularly towards ensuring girls lead learn decide and thrive.”

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