It’s been all over the news and I haven’t had a chance to write about it, but I guess better late than never. Have you read about Ilham Mahdi al Assi? The 13 year old child bride in Yemen who was tied up and raped by her husband and then left to bleed to death.
Apparently she was given to a man twice her age as part of a bride swap. Something that happens in cases of extreme poverty. Now I understand that parents who are poor will go to any extreme. But is your child such a burden that you can’t even wait for her to be old enough to be married off? Here a 12 year old died in childbirth. Why not the desi system of getting the girl betrothed (this is the best option I can think of) and only sending her away at 18 or something? And this seems to be rather a common situation. Much like our own child marriages – but atleast our laws don’t support them.
Apparently the husband took her to a hospital, first for tranquilisers, and then carried her there the second day because she couldn’t walk and was told not to touch her for ten days. Even her mother told her to have sex with him and not shame the family. I don’t know what to say. I know there are 13 year olds around the world having sex, but I still shudder at the thought of them doing it by choice, let alone being victims of marital rape.
The beauty of this – and I read this in every news item, is the mother saying – What have you done to her, you criminal? I like that. If you, as parents who have given birth and raised a child, can’t be expected to do the right thing by her, why expect anything from the man animal you’ve handed her over to?
Three years ago an 8 year old bride actually managed to get her marriage dissolved and got herself a divorce. I am amazed at how that worked. At 8 I could barely make myself breakfast – let alone walk into court. A lot of social conditioning goes into giving you courage at the age of eight and the girl had to be exceptionally gutsy to come from a backward family that married her off so young, and fight them still. May her tribe increase. The law has at various times set the age limit for marriage at 15 and 17, but each time caved to public pressure calling it un-Islamic, and saying its a parents choice as to when the child should marry. Heck, if everything is going to be governed by personal choice, why have a law at all? Why live as civil society, within certain boundaries? Why not let chaos reign supreme? And if we’re talking personal choice, shouldn’t it be the girl’s choice whether she wants to have sex or not? This makes my stomach turn.
Another article on the same issue says women themselves marched with the Quran over their heads, protesting it. I’m horrified. What kind of women want their own little girls to be violated in this way? Particularly when you realise that the men are almost always double the girls’ age for economic and practical reasons. What do you do when your own sex fails you?
Be it telling you not to have your kids as your screensaver if you want to get ahead at work. Or marrying your own daughters off when they’re still playing with dolls. At times like this, one begins to think female foeticide isn’t all that bad. Atleast you’re not rearing them as your own, only to hand them over to animals who tie them up, rape them and leave them bleeding to death. How can you say that a little 13 year old kid being given to a man twice her age is fine just because her parents say so? This of course wraps up with my theory that you can’t justify everything you do as a parent and say oh well I am a parent and I am doing what I think is best for my child and my family. Because then you leave us no scope to work towards protecting this child. Where are the moderate voices who should be speaking up against something like this?
And why oh why do people take something unacceptable and make it a religious issue? When they march with the Quran over their heads, they’re taking something that is precious to others who would never believe in something like this and claiming that it sanctions this. And I don’t know if that is fair – or if its fair to shout Jai Shri Ram while knocking down a mosque or even if Jesus sent the Pope a fax telling him that homosexuality and condoms should be on the banned list. I’d like to begin by speaking for myself and saying that Jesus/The Bible would never support anything that spread hatred or harmed anyone. So say what you want for yourself, but don’t take my religion and use it as a crutch for your own contemptible, putrid, bigotted, illiberal, segregationist, brutal, inhuman schemes.