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Sex with minor wife not rape : SC prosecutes NCW on rape law exception

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source: kolkata24x7.com

By NewsGram Staff Writer

New Delhi:  The Supreme Court prosecuted the National Commission for Women (NCW) on Friday in the hearing of a petition challenging the constitutional validity of a rape law exception that says sexual intercourse with a wife not less than 15 years of age is not rape.

The public interest litigation (PIL) challenged the exception in Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code which says: “Sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under 15 years of age, is not rape.”

Section 375 spells out six circumstances under which a man can be accused of committing a rape that includes sex without the consent of the woman or by putting her under some kind of pressure or fear.

However, it carves out an exception in case of a minor wife not less than 15 years.

While impleading the NCW as a party to the petition, the apex court social justice bench of Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit told petitioner NGO Independent Thought: “You may be right that the IPC will not override the statute.”

Moved by the NGO’s founding member Vikram Srivastava, the PIL contended that the exception was in conflict with the provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

Counsel for the PIL petitioner said the exception was also contrary to the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act.

five-year-girl

The PIL contended that the exception was a violation of Article 14 (equality before law), Article 15 (Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth) and Article 21 (Protection of life and personal liberty) of the Constitution to the extent that it permits intrusive sexual intercourse with a girl aged between 15 and 18 years on the ground that she has been married.

The petitioner NGO pointed to discrepancies in the law, referring to the provision of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), which says: “No court shall take cognizance of an offence under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code, where such offences consist of sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife, the wife being under 18 years of age, if more than one year has elapsed from the date of the commencement of the offence.”

This made Justice Lalit wonder about the “cognizance” for what you can’t punish.

“You can’t take cognizance of something that can’t be punished,” he said.

Admitting to the dichotomy in the statutory provisions and the exception, Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the bench that there were 23 million child brides in India, and the parliament had this ground reality in view while making the exception.

(With inputs from IANS)

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Child Marriage Annulled by Rajasthan Court

Judge Pradeep Kumar Jain issued an order nullifying the child marriage

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child marriage
Say no to Child marriage. Pixabay

A Rajasthan court has annulled the wedding of an 18-year-old girl who was married when she was just 10-month-old. Maina, daughter of a daily wage worker of Dhandhaniya Bhayla village, was married to a man in Udaysar village on December 26, 2001.

She sought help from Kriti Bharti, rehabilitation psychologist and managing trustee of Saarthi Trust. Bharti helped her file a petition in a family court in February seeking annulment of marriage.

Judge Pradeep Kumar Jain of the family court-1 of Jodhpur on Friday issued an order nullifying the child marriage.

child marriage
New decision by Rajasthan Court on Child Marriage. Pixabay

When Maina’s in-laws came to know about the petition, they approached ‘panchs’ who pressurised her and her family members to withdrew it and threatened the family of penalty and social boycott. However, during counselling Maina’s husband agreed to end the marriage.

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Maina said, “The marriage had ruined me. The annulment of my child marriage has given me a new life. Now I will study.” Bharti said, efforts were being made for rehabilitation of Maina. (IANS)

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US Plans to Prohibit Child Marriage, State by State

Forty-eight states allow those under 18 to marry, with varied requirements

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child marriage
Fraidy Reiss, left, and backers of her “Unchained at Last” group celebrate passage of laws barring child marriage in Delaware and New Jersey. Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz, in the blue dress, sponsored the bill in New Jersey. (C. Presutti/VOA)

Brides posing for photos on a beach is nothing new.  But a group of brides, dressed in traditional white gowns, posed recently on a New Jersey beach while wearing chains on their wrists and speaking from megaphones. The group, Unchained At Last, was celebrating the passage of laws in Delaware and New Jersey that prohibited child marriage.

Unchained at Last is on a quest to stop underage and forced marriage in all 50 U.S. states.  Its founder, Fraidy Reiss, a petite woman with a fiery streak, was 19 when her parents — whom she described as “ultra-Orthodox Jews,” — forced her into a violent marriage where she had no reproductive or financial rights.

“I was required to have sex with my husband and was not allowed to use birth control,” said Reiss. “I had my first child 11 months after my wedding.” Reiss said she was not allowed to have her own cash, credit card, bank account or job, “and, under Orthodox Jewish law, if my husband would have allowed me to work, any money I earned would go to him.”

For eight years, Reiss secretly saved enough money ($40,000) to file for a divorce.  She stashed it in the only place in her house where her husband would not look — “a box of Total [cereal] in the pantry closet,” Reiss said. “He didn’t like Total.”

Someone else said ‘I do’ for her

Naila Amin, who was standing with Reiss on the beach and shares the goal of stopping underage marriage, learned from her friends at age 8 what her future would be. “Your dad gave you away. Last night, you were stamped for Salim,” her friend said of the prospective groom. (His name has been changed for this story.)

child marriage
At age 8, Naila Amin was promised to a man 13 years older than she was so that he could get U.S. citizenship. She now runs a foundation and hopes to shelter girls in forced marriages. (C. Presutti/VOA)

Amin was shocked. Salim was her first cousin and much older than she was. She was 13 when she was taken from New York to Pakistan for the religious ceremony.  He was 26. “My dad said ‘I do’ for me,” Amin said. The young newlywed soon realized her value. Salim wanted U.S. citizenship, and he had to get married to get it. “My worth was my blue [American] passport,” she said.

Amin said her husband raped her by day and beat her nightly. One night, while the young couple was living among his family, she disguised her identity and ran away.  By age 17, she was divorced.  She now runs the Naila Amin Foundation in New York and wants to open a shelter for girls fleeing forced marriages.

‘Showing of necessity’

U.S. laws on underage marriage differ from state to state. Forty-eight states allow those under 18 to marry, with varied requirements.  Most require a parental signature.  Several have no minimum age, but set conditions.  Washington state, for example, allows marriage at any age “with judicial approval and showing of “necessity” — that is, pregnancy.

In May 2018, the Delaware state legislature passed the first law in the nation outlawing marriage under age 18.  When Governor John Carney signed the bill, he told VOA, “Until this bill came up, I didn’t even realize that was part of the law and there were abuses happening.”

From 2000 to 2017, 213 children as young as 14 married in the state, according to Delaware Health and Social Services’ Division of Public Health. Carney said he supported the law because there “ought to be a moral standard and I think we are setting that standard today.”

child marriage
Delaware was the first U.S. state to pass a law outlawing marriage under age 18. Governor John Carney signed the legislation in May 2018 and said his state is “setting a moral standard.” (C. Presutti/VOA)

The nation’s second child marriage law was enacted in New Jersey a month later. New Jersey Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz sponsored the legislation to protect young people. She said residents under 18 “can’t even get a contract with an attorney to get out of a marriage. They can’t get an apartment before 18. They can’t even buy a lottery ticket in New Jersey.”

According to Unchained at Last,  other states recently have passed legislation that would restrict young marriages, but none set the limit at 18.

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Victims to advocates

The United Nations and the U.S. State Department calls marriage before age 18 an abuse of human rights. Yet the Tahirih Justice Center, a nongovernmental organization in Falls Church, Virginia, that works to protect immigrant women and girls fleeing gender-based violence and persecution, said more than 200,000 children in the U.S. were married between 2000 and 2015.

Reiss is continuing her mission this year as state legislatures debate various bills.  She said she’s seen too many cases in which current laws are used to cover up rape, as young girls are forced to marry their rapists. Reiss asks opponents of her objectives to give her one situation in which someone will be severely harmed by waiting to marry at age 18. She says no one can. “I want to be known as the little woman who ended child marriage in America,” she told VOA. (VOA)

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Taylor Swift Dedicates Her Newest Music Video to the LGBTQ Equality

Perry's appearance signaled an end to a spat between the two musicians

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Taylor Swift, Song, Petition
FILE - Taylor Swift performs at the iHeartRadio Wango Tango concert in Carson, California, June 1, 2019. LOS ANGELES - Pop singer and songwriter Taylor Swift on Monday released a star-stud. VOA

Pop singer and songwriter Taylor Swift on Monday released a star-studded music video that scolded social media trolls and urged fans to sign a petition demanding U.S. legal protections for gays, lesbians and transgender people.

The video for Swift’s new single “You Need to Calm Down” featured a surprise cameo by former rival Katy Perry plus a host of other celebrities. Perry’s appearance signaled an end to a spat between the two musicians which began in 2013 over backup singers in their shows.

Set in a pastel-colored trailer park, the video featured Swift, 29, relaxing in a pool while she called out her critics and those who attack LGBTQ people. “Shade never made anybody less gay,” she sang.

Celebrities in the video who identify as LGBTQ include Ellen DeGeneres, Billy Porter, RuPaul, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Adam Lambert, Hannah Hart and Tan France.

Taylor Swift, Song, Petition
Pop singer and songwriter Taylor Swift on Monday released a star-studded music video that scolded social media trolls and urged fans to sign a petition. Flickr

Swift, all smiles and outfitted as French fries, hugged Perry, 34, dressed as a hamburger, a costume she wore to last month’s Met Gala fundraiser at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Social media posts in 2018 suggested an end to their spat, which had played out in their songs. On Tuesday, Perry posted a photo on her Instagram account, with Swift being tagged, showing a plate of cookies with the words “Peace at last” appearing to be written in icing.

At the end of the new video, two sentences on screen urged fans to sign a petition urging the U.S Senate to pass legislation that would protect LGBTQ people from discrimination.

The measure has already cleared the U.S. House of Representatives.

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“Let’s show our pride by demanding that, on a national level, our laws truly treat all of our citizens equally,” it said.

The petition had collected more than 222,000 signatures within a few hours.

Swift, who has more than 118 million Instagram followers, has been stepped into politics in 2018 by supporting two Democrats running in U.S. congressional elections in Tennessee.

Voter registrations spiked in the state, but Swift’s preferred candidate for Senate lost the election. (VOA)

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