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Sharma, Kanika (2020) 'Withholding Consent to Conjugal Relations within Child Marriages in Colonial India: Rukhmabai's Fight.' Law and History Review, 38 (1). pp. 151-175.

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Married at the age of eleven, Rukhmabai refused to go and live with her husband who had filed a suit for restitution of conjugal rights against her in 1884. This paper analyses the transplantation of the notion of restitution of conjugal rights into Hindu personal law in India at a time when child marriage was rife and there was no minimum age of marriage. Within this context Rukhmabai's case symbolises an important interjection in its attempt to posit lack of consent to an infant marriage as a defence against suits for restitution of conjugal rights. This marked a shift from female consent being understood as a question of physical maturity alone, to a claim of intelligent consent and the capacity to withhold such consent within an unconsummated marriage arranged in the girl's infancy. While analysing these notions of consent within colonial law the paper also closely scrutinises Rukhmabai's public writings to recover one of the earliest published Indian female views on the need for marital consent.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: Rukhmabai, age of consent, restitution of conjugal rights, India
SOAS Departments & Centres: School Research Centres > Centre for Asian Legal Studies
Departments and Subunits > School of Law
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DS Asia
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Women
K Law > KL Asia and Eurasia, Africa, Pacific Area, and Antarctica
K Law
ISSN: 07382480
Copyright Statement: © the American Society for Legal History, Inc. 2020. This is the accepted manuscript of an article published by Cambridge University Press in Law and History Review. Available online:
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 20 Apr 2020 07:06
Related URLs: ... B31AE85FE07DA5C (Publisher URL)

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