a blog about women’s rights, human dignity, secularism and sexual freedom in the Arab world
Child marriages happen every day in the world. Most of them do not make the news. One of the few exceptions is a case recently reported by Al Hayat newspaper and other media outlets, of a ninety year old man who married a fifteen year old girl in Saudi Arabia. Apparently the bride escaped on her wedding night, and the groom is suing her family for ‘damages’.
So let’s talk about damages: Pregnancy is the leading cause of death worldwide for women ages 15 to 19: Girls younger than 15 are five times more likely to die in childbirth than women in their 20s. Child brides face a higher risk of contracting HIV because they often marry an older man with more sexual experience. They are also more likely to experience domestic violence, and often show signs of sexual abuse and post-traumatic stress such as feelings of hopelessness, helplessness and severe depression. Are these risks limited to a restricted number of women? We’d wish. The humanitarian organisation CARE as well as the International Centre for Research on Women both estimate that more than 50 million girls under the age of eighteen are married, many to men twice their age or older. A big number of these brides are Muslim.
In fact, Islam teaches that a girl enters adulthood at the beginning of puberty (as if the onset of puberty equals maturity!), and thus becomes ready for marriage. The Islamic source materials state that prophet Mohammed (who allowed men four wives but authorized himself eleven) proposed marriage to Aisha when she was six. He assumed her silence constituted her consent. Some two to three years later, he consummated his marriage with her. He was fifty-four and she was nine. Allah, conveniently so, inspired him with verses that excuse and promote this practise. After him, numerous Muslim scholars, Sheikhs and muftis also promoted it. It is enough as an example of such abominable support to cite the horrifying words of Ayatollah Khomeini, one of the most famous Islamic clerics of the twentieth century, taken from his book Tahreer Al Wasila:
“A man is not to have sexual intercourse with his wife before she is nine years old, whether regularly or occasionally, but he can have sexual pleasure from her, whether by touching or holding her, or rubbing against her, even if she is as young as an infant. However, had he penetrated her without deflowering her, then he holds no responsibility towards her. But if a man penetrates and deflowers the infant (...), then he should be responsible for her subsistence all her life.”
The scandalising number of child brides in the world today, girls as young as eleven or twelve, who are sold into marriages from Iran to Yemen and from Saudi Arabia to Afghanistan proves that the problem is far from being solved. While in Islam there is an overwhelming focus on female chastity, and on girls’ morally uncompromised manners and behaviour, the Islamic practice of ‘institutionalised’ paedophilia is not seen as outrageous, and it is quite normal for men to marry fourteen year old girls. Women’ hair is not to be seen, but it is ok for fathers to give away their little daughters in marriage to decadent men: After all, girls are a worthless burden, so it is best to get rid of them as soon as possible. Obviously, not all these child brides are Muslims, and I am not suggesting that Islam is the only reason for child marriage in the world. Clearly there are other economic, cultural and social issues behind it. But Islam at the very least allows, enables and even encourages the practice of child brides, since prophet Mohammed is the ‘best of examples’ (Uswa Hasana). Muslim child brides are also reported to be on the increase in Western countries like the UK, Germany and Canada.
If the Sharia isn’t institutionalising paedophilia, then what is? It is depravity at its best! Nabokov’s ‘Lolita’ is a benign children’s story compared to these atrocities. Filthy pigs are allowed to marry little girls who are still at the age of playing with dolls.
In the meantime, pigs’ meat is Haram.
Follow Joumana Haddad on Twitter: @joumana333