With the Supreme Court crimilising conjugal sex with a minor wife (below 18 years), the spotlight now shifts to child marriages that still remain a social evil in this country. For this verdict to be enforced properly, the police will have to be sensitised enough to allow aggrieved minor wives to lodge complaints, for only then can husbands be held liable. But legal experts are optimistic that the verdict will go a long way in deterring child marriages, as underage girls will be forced to live separately from husbands till then turn 18. In fact, the apex court has directly addressed the issue, by expressing concern over child marriage in its judgment, observing that ‘social justice laws are not implemented with the spirit they had been ected in’, while asking the Central and State governments to take proactive steps to prohibit child marriages. It speaks volumes that the Centre had defended before the SC bench exception clause (2) in Section 375 IPC (which deals with rape) that says intercourse or sexual act by a man with his wife, not below 15 years, is not rape. However, the judges disagreed, striking down this provision that permits sex with a wife aged between 15 and 18 years. In its petition, the NGO Independent Thought had challenged this provision, arguing that the age of consent is 18 years. “The exception in rape law under the IPC is contrary to other statutes, violates bodily integrity of girl child,” said the SC bench. There are 2 crore 30 lakh child brides in the country as per the 2011 census, lest we forget. This verdict is thus one more notable blow struck for the cause of the girl child’s rights, and should be welcomed. And persol laws will not be exempt either, since the verdict makes sex with a minor wife a crimil offence.