After the landmark judgement passed by the Supreme Court on Wednesday which criminalises sex with a child wife; the lawyers arguing for criminalising marital rape say that they see a ray of hope in the verdict passed by the apex court. Though the verdict does not make any observation with regard to marital rape of an adult woman, yet the judgement is encouraging according to the lawyers. Especially the one where the court says that IPC Section 375, which allows the rape of a wife over the age of 15 years, “creates an unnecessary and artificial distinction between a married girl child and an unmarried girl child.”
The Delhi High Court is hearing a bunch of petitions, filed by RIT foundation, AIDWA, and a marital rape survivor which challenges the overall constitutional validity of Section 375, Indian Express reported. Colin Gonsalves, a senior advocate who is a counsel for the marital rape survivor says that the apex court has observed that the classification of ” girls into married and unmarried girls is an artificial distinction where sex with an unmarried girl is rape but the moment the man marries a girl, it is not rape.” Gonsalves says that the same argument is being used in the petition to Delhi High Court and hopes that the judgement will directly be affected.
Expressing concern over the prevalent practice of child marriage in the country, a bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said it is for the Centre and the states to take proactive steps to prevent child marriages so that young girls in India could aspire for a better and healthier life. The apex court also said that there was a plethora of material which clearly indicated that sexual intercourse with a girl child below the age of 18 was not at all advisable for her for several reasons, including physical and mental well- being and her social standing.