Indian court rules sex with wife under 18 is rape
In a landmark ruling on Wednesday, India's top court amended the country's rape law and declared that sex with an underage wife illegal under India's Penal Code (IPC).
The wife must file a complaint against her husband within a year of the committed offence.
"The exception in rape law under the IPC is contrary to other statutes, violates bodily integrity of girl child," the court in the capital, New Dehli, said.
The verdict will come into effect for future instances and have no bearing on marriages already solemnised, the court said.
The legal age for marriage in India is 18, but child marriages, are not uncommon, especially in the rural parts of the country.
The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) considers sex with a person under the age of 18 as rape.
However, the law had an exception clause that said a man was not guilty of rape if he had consensual sex with a wife who was above the age of 15.
After hearing a petition by NGO Independent Thought, the Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that the age of consent was 18.