Source: The Choice
Child marriages, which have so far been the hallmark of countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan, are now afflicting Malaysia – a sign that under PAS the slow Talibanisation of our nation has already begun.
Earlier this month, 12-year-old Nur Fariza Saad tied the knot with 19-year-old Mohammad Fahmi Alias in the PAS-ruled state of Kedah. Their marriage sparked public outrage, with activists calling for child marriages to be banned in Malaysia.
“I don’t understand why this is allowed in a country like Malaysia,” Ratna Osman, executive director of activist group Sisters in Islam, told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
“We are talking about a developed country.”
She noted that having sex with a 12-year-old girl who is not one’s wife is considered statutory rape under Malaysian law.
“You would be charged under the law on statutory rape but get permission from the court and suddenly it’s O.K. to have sex with a 12-year-old,” Ratna said.
The legal age for Muslims to marry is 16 years for women and 18 for men, but those under age are permitted to marry with parental and shariah court consent. Shariah law comes under state jurisdiction – and with Kedah under PAS rule, it’s no coincidence that this has flourished in that state.
Between 2008 and 2010, for instance, Kedah’s Islamic Religious Department showed a 35 per cent increase in marriage applications for underage people.
A report released this month by the U.N. Country Team Gender Theme Group found that in 2011 Shariah courts had approved 824 marriages involving Muslims in which at least one party was younger than the legal age.
The researchers interviewed six girls and one boy who married below the legal age and found that their reasons for getting married were: to avoid premarital sex, which is forbidden under Islam; to avoid being arrested for khalwat, an Islamic offense in which unmarried men and women are found in “close proximity;” coercion by family elders; and pregnancy.
The 19-year-old groom at the centre of the latest controversial marriage, Fahmi, agrees: “It is better for us to get married than do things forbidden by our religion.
“And Nur Fazira has agreed to shoulder the responsibility of a wife at this age (12 years),” he added.
So that means their defence is that it’s better for boys and girls to be united legally under Islam than to be allowed to live in ‘sin’. Such is the perverse logic of PAS.
Non-Muslims will no doubt say this doesn’t concern them as these child marriages involve Muslims. But are they willing to stand by idle as this disaster-in-the-making unfolds in our multi-cultural society under Pakatan?
In 2010, Malaysians were shocked by the marriage of two girls aged 10 and 11 to men in their 40s in Kelantan, another PAS-ruled state. Days later, the 11-year-old was found abandoned and in a state of shock.
In many of these stories, the mothers and female relatives are equally complicit in carrying out the child marriage. Any girl who defies or attempts to defy such customs is likely to suffer or pay with her life.
Sharmila Sekaran, chairwoman of Voice of the Children, a rights group in KL, said the Government should outlaw child marriage.
“I don’t think parents should be allowed to consent for children the age of 12,” she told the New York Times.
“There has been research done which shows that children at the age of 12 are not sufficiently mature to understand their role within a marriage and certainly in terms of becoming parents; they themselves are still children,” she added.
Sekaran pointed out that studies have found that young girls who become pregnant and their babies faced greater health risks than older women.
Malaysians need to realise that the road PAS wants to take our society down will eventually take us to a world already inhabited in Afghanistan or parts of Pakistan, where the recent shooting of teenage activist Malala Yusofzai underscores the Islamist fallout on female children.
Under PAS we will regress into an Islamic stone age for women. This is not a future that our women and girls deserve.