08 December 2010

The articles are captured from the original writer, MsMarina (with her permission). SambalBelacan is just compiling articles to make easier to find. Any comments received will remain un-respond because it's not mine.Reach her at her very own blog at http://rantingsbymm.blogspot.com/ Please.

Wednesday December 8, 2010
Marriage is not about legalising sex

Worldwide society is moving towards banning child marriages altogether. A child bride is utterly dependent on her husband, being less educated and unable to earn her own income.

WHEN a mainstream newspaper puts a front-page photo of a 14-year-old bride with no comment at all, then there is something seriously sick with our society.

Despite signing on to the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) we are still allowing child marriages to happen with the pretext that religion allows it.

What has child marriage got to do with discrimination against women? When child marriages occur, it is almost always girls who are the ones married off, rarely ever boys.

And in almost all cases, they are married to much older men, sometimes old enough to be their grandfathers. Child marriage is therefore never one of equality because how can a child ever be an equal partner to her adult husband?

One might argue about the presumption of equality in marriage; that wives should be, by default, inferior to their husbands. Even if this is a valid belief (and it is not), doesn’t a girl child have even more odds stacked against her than an adult wife?

A child bride is even more dependent on her husband than most adult wives, being less educated and unable to earn her own income. Her entire future is in his hands, to be decided as he wills.

I have to ask, what sort of parents match-make their underage daughter to an older man, albeit one who is a family friend? Do they have so little ambition for their child?

I know how parents, especially mothers, fall “in love” with young men they think would be ideal for their daughters, but is it so important to grab a man as a husband for such a young daughter instead of waiting for her to grow up and, who knows, find a better one herself later?

Or is the idea to control your child’s life to such a degree that you dictate her future before she can even acquire the means to decide on her own?

It is entirely sick that there are religious officials who view child marriage as the answer to “social problems”. What problems are they talking about? Is sex outside marriage the greatest evil there is? Is not child marriage with its virtual enslavement of girls, its proven physical damage to girls’ bodies and the utter lack of preparedness for a life of responsibility not a bigger social evil?

Every day in the papers we see endless horrifying results of irresponsibility in marriage; abandoned wives and children, domestic violence, child abuse. Aren’t those greater issues?

Has anyone even noticed that in cases of child abuse, the parent perpetrators are invariably young and saddled with several young children who they obviously view as a hindrance to their enjoyment of life?

Go visit an orphanage and see the many children there who are not orphans but have been either discarded by their parents or have been placed there by the courts because of abuse by their own parents.

Is marriage only about legalising sex? And therefore if anyone is in “danger” of having illegal sex they should be married off regardless of age?

Indeed, when we think of child marriages as a way of fending off “social evils”, who do we think is the would-be perpetrator of that evil? Is it not the groom? So, if he does legally what in all other cases would be called rape, he is all right?

In other countries, society is moving towards banning child marriages altogether. Even in super-conservative Saudi Arabia, a member of the Senior Council of Ulema said that the Prophet Mohammed’s marriage to a nine-year-old girl some 14 centuries ago cannot be used to justify child marriages today.

Sheikh Abdullah Al-Manie said that circumstances today are different from the days when the Prophet married Aisha. (Other scholars have also argued that Aisha was not nine but 19, which seems to indicate some defensiveness about this issue.)

In Indonesia, a Muslim cleric who married a 12-year-old girl was jailed four years for sexual abuse of a minor.

He said he was not going to sleep with her until she reached puberty, but few in the predominantly Muslim nation of 237 million were mollified, especially when he went on to say he also intended to marry two other girls, aged seven and nine.

Paedophilia is paedophilia no matter what the garb.

But of course we in Malaysia have to be different. Once upon a time we talked about how our grandmothers married very young but we also dismissed this as an old-fashioned practice.

In the 21st century when we’re trying to become a modern nation, why are we not ashamed that we find excuses to allow child marriages?

It is now time to just ban this outright and become civilised.