Sex with wife below 18 years to be considered rape, says Supreme Court

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The order comes at a time when the court is hearing petitions calling for marital rape to be declared a crime and a debate over the age of consent.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday criminalised sex between a man and his underage wife provided the woman files a complaint within a year.

The order comes at a time when the court is hearing petitions calling for marital rape to be declared a crime and a debate over the age of consent.

In India rape and child marriage laws disagree on age of consent. Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code says sex with a girl who is below 18 is rape but it has an exception, which says sexual intercourse by a man with his wife, who is 15 or above, is not rape even if it is without her consent.

On Wednesday, the court read down the exception that protected a man from having sex with his wife aged between 15 and 18 years.

The government has told the court that it opposes criminalising marital rape as it would hurt the institution of marriage.

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