Is the legal system supporting child marriage in India?


  • The Supreme Court emphasized on issue of child marriage in India.
  • At least one in three marriages in rural areas involves girl children below the age of 18.

What is child Marriage?

  • Child marriage is a human rights violation.
  • According to the Indian law, a marriage where either the woman is below age 18 or the man is below age 21.
  • Most child marriages involve underage women from poor socio-economic conditions.

What makes (Child marriage) rape acceptable?

  • Exception 2 to Section 375 of IPC
  • An exception clause Indian Penal Code (IPC)
  • Mentions that sexual intercourse or sex of Section 375 of the
  • Sexual acts by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under 15 years of age are not rape.
  • Aimed at protecting the “institution of marriage”

What are the contradictions to this law?

  • The Exception is contrary to the following laws:

Anti-child sex abuse law

  • The Parliament of India passed the ‘Protection of Children against Sexual Offences Bill, 2011’ regarding child sexual abuse on May 22, 2012 into Act.

Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012 

  • POCSO Act was formulated in order to address sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children
  • Defines different forms of sexual abuse
  • Penetrative
  • Non-penetrative assault
  • Sexual harassment
  • Pornography

Who filed the petition?

  • The petition was filed by NGO Independent Thought challenging the Exception 2 to Section 375 (rape) of the Indian Penal Code
  • The NGO was represented by advocate Gaurav Agarwal stated the statutory exception to rape was violative of right to life, personal liberty, equality

What are the implications of this law?

  • The law violates the health of the girl child concerned and generations to come
  • The law further encourages such acts of sexual harassment to minors

What steps should be taken?

  • Empowering young people to criticize the existing social norms.
  • Integration of existing child laws in India.
  • Effective implementation of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act (2006).
  • Consistency between personal laws and The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act should be established


  • Society must go forward and not get stuck with what was the social norm over 70 years ago
  • It is important that such contradictory laws made years ago should at least be amended so that they contest with the present times
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