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The Supreme Court ruled the age of consent was 18 for "all purposes" after hearing a petition by Independent Thought, a non-profit group that sought to criminalize sex with underaged wives.
"Sexual intercourse by a married man with their minor wife below 18 years is rape," the court said in its judgment, which was welcomed by women's rights campaigners.
In the car, on our way to the train-station, my aunt asked me if I had mentioned anything to my mother about the ‘incident...’ I was shocked.
It was something that had remained unspoken for years and I had blocked it out of my mind.
The study, the first to break down India's census data on child marriage, found that nearly one in four girls in rural areas and one in five in urban areas married before 18.
Despite efforts to empower girls and women and toughen penalties, India is among the top 10 countries with the highest rates of child marriage, along with Burkina Faso, Chad, Guinea, Niger and South Sudan.
The arrest warrant claims the boy was questioned by his principal and confessed to the sexual encounters, according to the Houston Chronicle.
(Danish Siddiqui/Reuters) Wednesday's verdict would not be applied retroactively, however, said the court, which based its conclusions on India's Child Marriage Prohibition Act.
A groom puts vermilion, a Hindu sign of marriage, on the forehead of his underage bride during a mass marriage in the village of Malda, India, in March 2006.
Though illegal, child marriage is deeply rooted in India.
More than a quarter of Indian women between 20 and 24 said they were married before 18, and a fifth of men between 25 and 29 said they married below the legal age, the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights and the charity Young Lives said in a recent report analyzing the census data.
The number of underage brides has declined 0.3 per cent in rural areas since 2001, but in urban areas it increased 0.7 per cent, the report said.
"I am very happy with the supreme court judgment," Vikram Srivastava, a lawyer for Independent Thought, told Reuters.