India's Supreme Court rules sex with a 'child bride' is rape

India's Supreme Court has ruled that a man is committing rape if he engages in sexual intercourse with his wife who is aged between 15 and 18 — a landmark decision that will affect millions of child brides.

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Key points:

  • Law states even consensual sex with an underage woman is rape
  • The verdict will not be applied retrospectively
  • One in four girls in rural areas and one in five girls in urban areas are married underaged in India

The legal age of consent is 18 years. The law regards even consensual sex with a woman under 16 as rape, but an exception had been made for intercourse between a man and his wife who is between 15 and 18.

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