Top Indian court rules sex with wife younger than 18 is rape

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NEW DELHI ā€“ India's top court has ruled that having sexual intercourse with a wife younger than 18 is rape, a decision that activists say is an important step toward ending child marriages.

Indian law has set 18 as the age for women to marry and consent to sex, but there are exceptions and a man was permitted to have sex, even forcibly, with a girl as young as 15, as long as she was his wife.

The court ruled Wednesday that sexual intercourse with a girl younger than 18 is rape.

Lawyer Indira Jaisingh said the ruling would make child marriages illegal.

Child marriages are prevalent in India, especially among the rural poor.

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