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Posted at: Oct 13, 2017, 2:25 AM; last updated: Oct 13, 2017, 2:25 AM (IST)

Those who marry minor girls are rapists: Nobel Laureate

Those who marry minor girls are rapists: Nobel Laureate
Noble Peace Prize Winner Kailash Satyarthi at Panjab University, Chandigarh on Thursday. Tribune photo: Manoj Mahajan

Bhartesh Singh Thakur

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 12

Those who marry minor girls are rapists, says Kailash Satyarthi, Nobel Laureate.

He congratulated the apex court for its Wednesday’s judgment which held sexual intercourse of man with his wife, who is below 18, as rape on the petition of his NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan.

“The judgment will have far reaching consequences on ending child marriages. Parents would fear that their damaad’ (son-in-law) would go to jail and a man would also be fearful about marrying an underage girl,” he says, while talking to The Tribune in a one-to-one interview.

“I keep saying those who marry minor girls are rapists,” he said.

Satyarthi said that his contention before the court was contradiction in the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and the Indian Penal Code as an unmarried girl was able to prosecute a rapist but a married girl, aged 15-18, wouldn’t be able to proceed against her husband for rape. “The government opposed it citing social norms in India would be disturbed but the court listened to our argument,” said Satyarthi. He added that we couldn’t live in a regressive social environment.

Implementation of judgment

When asked whether it could lead to prosecution of husbands of minor girls on the complaint of a third person, he says, “It is complicated. The government has to see how it will be implemented. But the biggest deterrence will be on child marriage.”

The immediate implication of the judgment, however, is that in child marriages, both husband and wife have to live separately.

On Muslim personal law allowing marriages of girls between 15-18, he said: “The verdict is applicable to all. Child marriage is a social menace. We have got freed many child brides, including Muslim ones where they were kept as prostitute by brothers.”

‘Political opinion will divert my issues’

When asked why he doesn’t raise any political issue, he confesses, “I am not a politician. I am working with all political leaders. I went to Kashmir where CM Mehbooba Mufti supported our cause. The MP CM has promised that he would bring an effective law which would be a deterrent to child abuse. Naidu has supported us. I don’t want to divert my cause. I am calling for child-centric politics and every political party has showed interest. My focus is on children. Such a politics is effective for 50 years and not for five years.”

“Insurgency, wars, disasters — a child is the worst victim. Whatever happens in society, a child has to bear the burden though no child is responsible for wars, inequality, border conflicts.”

Sex offender registry

Kailash Satyarthi has also talked about forming a registry of sex offenders so that such people couldn’t get jobs in schools and would lose social status too. He adds that they are working with Human Resource Development ministry on imparting sex education to children age-wise.

He also raised the issue of substance use among kids in Punjab and pornography.

Rohingya crisis

Kailash Satyarthi criticised Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi for the Rohingya crisis. He said, “Suu Kyi-led Myanmar government should take measures. It is unacceptable. Other Nobel Peace Laureates are also upset about it.” Earlier, in Bhopal, he had said that had it been possible, he would have asked Suu Kyi to return the Nobel Prize. 


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