A ruling by India’s top court criminalizing sex with underage brides could prevent thousands of girls being trafficked and sold on the pretext of marriage, campaigners said on Thursday.

Speaking a day after the landmark ruling, they said that raising awareness about the court victory for children and enforcing the verdict were now the key to its success.

“For the longest time, traffickers have been using marriage with minors as an alibi to rape girls in the first instance, to break them, before selling them to pimps and brothel owners,” said Adrian Phillips, an advocate from Justice and Care, which fights trafficking.

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