Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Monday, January 20, 2014

Muslim Marriage Normalcy

"When a young girl is married and gives birth, the vicious cycle of poverty, poor health, curtailed education, violence, instability, disregard for rule of law ... continues into the next generation, especially for any daughters she may have.
"Child marriage legitimizes human rights violations and abuses of girls under the guise of culture, honour, tradition and religion."
Equality Now, international human rights group report
Yemeni school students hold up posters denouncing child marriage, as they take part in a protest outside the parliament building in Sanaa, Yemen -- The Associated Press
FILE - In this Tuesday, March 23, 2010 file photo, Yemeni school students hold up posters denouncing child marriage, as they take part in a protest outside the parliament in Sanaa, Yemen. In the Middle East, Saudi Arabia and Yemen are the only Arab countries that do not have laws that set a minimum age for marriage. According to a December 2011 Human Rights Watch report, approximately 14 percent of girls in the Arab world’s poorest nation of Yemen were married before the age 15, and 52 percent were married before 18 years old. Arabic reads, "no for killing childhood " and "Fawzya Abdullah: a victim of underage marriage." (AP Photo, File)
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Using statistics provided to them by the United Nations Population Fund, the human rights group Equality Now revealed in a weekend report that over 140 million girls worldwide will be married off before they turn 18, over the next decade. This occurs in India, but it is common in Afghanistan, Cameroon, Guatemala, Jordan, Kenya, Malawi and Mali. It occurs most often in Muslim-demographic areas of the world.

And as people migrate from those countries to take up residence as immigrants or refugees in Western countries, they bring the tradition with them. It is part of their accepted culture, stemming from religious belief that their religion, mostly Islam, supports the 'marriage' of girl children to men their families agree to surrender the children to. Paving the way for a lifetime of subjugation and marital slavery in childbirth and isolation.

Custom and tradition enter the picture in the society's acceptance of girl children used to restore or maintain family honour, or to settle a debt, or to obtain some financial gain. As far as the child's family is concerned a wedding equates with one less mouth to feed. And the wedding dowry is of useful practicality to the impoverished, used by the family to support itself. The law of the country may say one thing, but social normatives make it legitimate to give a child in marriage before age 18.

Early marriages may be encouraged with the intention of providing protection for young girls against sexual predation. In and of itself the prevention of a young girl being raped means that the family honour will not be besmirched. The United Nations population fund claims rates of child marriages highest in the poverty-stricken West African country of Niger. There, 75% of girls are married before they are 18, while a third are wed before age 15.

In Bangladesh, child marriage rates stand at 66%. In Central African Republic and Chad the rate is 68%, while in India, 47% of girls are married before age 18. Saudi Arabia and Yemen are the sole Arab countries in the Middle East that have no laws setting a minimum age for marriage. A 2011 Human Rights Watch report stated that about 14% of girls in Yemen were married before age 15; 52% before age 18.

Born in the Middle East, Africa or East Asia, the lot of young girls is not an enlightened one.

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