Child Marriage (???)

“When they commit an indecent act they say, “We found our fathers doing it and Allah commanded us to do it too. Say, “Allah does not command indecency, or do you say things about Allah you do not know?”

-Quran, 7:28

I read something that made my blood boil earlier today.

I’m sure most of you know what I’m talking about. It was written in TIME.com ( http://time.com/4438342/malaysia-rape-marry-victim/ ) and several internet meme popped up from all this. But for those who didn’t know, a 28 year old man escaped justice by marrying a 15 year old girl he raped (though she was 14 when the crime was committed). I mean, what is wrong with our society today that we seem to be promoting child marriage and condoning rape?! Like, it’s ok if you raped a little girl, as long as you put a ring on her finger and call her ‘wife’ afterwards (????). The worst part of it all is that this is not the first time something like this happened, and probably not the last. I recall reading something similar in the newspaper when I was 15, how angry I had been then too, and how various women’s organisations had been angrier than me. Reading about the protests these organisations made had calmed me a bit. I remember thinking that maybe now everyone would see how wrong child marriage is and that we should not take rape lightly. Fast forward 3 years and it seems that I was wrong (and also naive, to think that the world can change that easily).

For those of you who seem to wonder why I am so against this entire issue, let me break it down to you:

Marriage is supposed to be sacred. Marriage is supposed to be about love, not an act you perform when you’re desperate to avoid jail. And no matter what you think, marrying a girl off to her rapist is not islamic. That act is not decent or acceptable. You can’t sweep everything under a rug just because you take her as your wife. When I was 17 I learned about marriage during my Pendidikan Islam classes (since it was part of the syllabus) and I remembered how I had to stay up until late at night memorising the rights of husbands and wives, the process of marriage and all that just to find out a year later that a couple somewhere across the country, who’s twice as old as me and evidently more experienced in marriage decides to wed their daughter off to someone who abused her. Frankly, that goes against the very foundation of the things I learned. But this marriage is not about love or sanctity, is it? It’s about avoiding “shame” and saving the family’s name by sacrificing one of your own.

The whole idea of how a girl is “dishonoured” after losing her virginity and should quicly get married to avoid shame is absurd. Kaijah Sabbah put it so eloquently into words: “If you consider a woman less pure after you’ve touched her, maybe you should take a look at your hands.”Virginity itself is a social construct (for more info you can google it yourself because I’m just gonna touch a little bit on it). You’re probably thinking how that is a very feminist thing to say, and I know how when most people hear the word ‘feminist’ they would have an automatic gag reaction to it, but here me out: ever since I was young, I have been ingrained with the notion that the most important thing to a woman, the one thing that determines her value and worth to this world, is her virginity. I see it all the time in the Malay movies or dramas: girl is young and pretty, girl gets raped, girl’s life turns into a complete shitstorm, no one wants girl anymore, boy comes and marries her, girl is sO LuCKY tO HaVe soMeOne wHo sTiLl WaNts hEr (!!!). Hell, I once even thought it’s both poetic and beautiful that a woman’s fall from grace is more heavily scrutinized in our culture compared to a man’s (I was 12 guys I’m sorry for being so stupid). But then I grew up and realised how ridiculous it all is. We live in a patriarchal culture that firmly believes a woman’s value lies solely on whether or not she had had sex (or been raped). And although most religions ban pre-marital sex to both genders, there seems to be a double standard where it’s fine or encouraged or at the very least less shameful for boys to gain sexual experience before marriage. I am not saying that boys are not forbidden from having pre-marital sex, I’m saying that even if they do society wouldn’t make such a big deal out of it. Why? Because to most people, boys have much more to offer than their virginity. Their entire self-value does not come down to their chastity like how girls’ do. And if you don’t think that’s not screwed up then I truly feel sorry for you. When a girl is no longer a virgin, even if it’s because she was raped, labels like “damaged goods”, “deflowered” and “dishonored” would be thrown at her, like she is a piece of used property that nobody wants anymore (psst, guess what? she is not). People should value you based on your kindness, your intelligence, your thoughtfulness, you capacity for love and a million other things that is more important than your virginity.

She is 15. I am 3 years older than her and just starting college, my little sister is 3 years younger than her and just starting to try out which facial wash suits her best. I have a brother the same age as her who would be taking PT3 this October, and if he comes home one of these days saying he wants to marry a girl I would probably smack him on the head. This girl has a whole life ahead of her and I cannot imagine her spending it with the person who had irrevocably hurt her. I can’t imagine her eating at the same table as this man, sharing the same bed and forced to call him ‘husband’. What about her education? What about her future? Should we forsake all of that because of something that is not even her fault to begin with? Some conservatives would say that our Prophet himself married Aisha when she was 6 and consummated the marriage when she was 9, therefore child marriage is legal in Islam. I would like to point out that the true age of Aisha has been debated by scholars for centuries, and currently still being debated. Some said she was 9 when she was married, some claimed she was 19 ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aisha ). But even if it is true, she married our Prophet, our last and best Prophet, for political reasons and last time I checked this rapist is not a prophet, and the reason behind the marriage is much more inadmissible.

Young girls of this generation have so much to offer the world, and it would be cruel to take away their opportunities because of a crime done onto them. Sorry if I end this quite abruptly, but it’s near 12 and I haven’t even finished my assignment yet lol.

P.S.:if you have any objections/agreement towards this matter and would like to talk about it (even if you don’t agree with me) feel free to email me at nurulfarhanazulkafli@yahoo.com . I won’t judge your opinions; I love to know how other people think, especially if your pattern of thoughts are so different than mine.

Love,

Ana

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