Who is the real criminal?

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.

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44 thoughts on “Who is the real criminal?

  1. I will never understand how they do this to their own children!

    12 and 13 year olds, with what ever social conditioning, can not be expected to be anything more than a slave to these so called husbands of theirs!

  2. MM, I am not going to comment on the first part of the post, because we all know each other’s opinion on it. It makes me sick. The first time I read it, it left me numb. But what you said in the second part is what I really have been thinking about. It’s extremely sad that one religion is being convoluted in a way that the liberal among its followers fail to recognize it as their own… these women who set out on this march for example.. OMG, what’s gotten into them? And which sane person – Muslim or Non-Muslim – will be proud to say that they share their ideologies? Which religion upholds a skewed and barbaric interpretation of its tenets higher than the most basic of human rights and in this case, the right to live, I’d really like to know? It’s a simple question and a very cliched one, do these people never ask this? I can understand that there are some who stand to gain from this constant propoganda of the Quran as a strict document threatening to punish you in 1001 different ways if you don’t live by its “preached inferences”, but what happened to the common sense of the masses? While I’m all for not being phobic of any community or religious practice, but I am sorry to say I am shallow enough to give up on this one, not for everything else associated with it but this unbreakable herd mentality that’s gone much farther than a single preacher/ sect/ political agenda/ one nation.

  3. The news is sick to stomach,but i dont wonder bcoz they dont even care for their children while taking them for a mall,then how can we expect them to give them a right future.
    They left the essence of what the religion actually says,but bending the point according to their wish,really sick

  4. U know I used to think that all these social evils will get eradicated as the lifestyle of people improves overall and with increased prosperity. I used to think that increased interaction among people, societies, nations will have a civilising effect. But thats not how it works. Look at the Saudi’s. They have all the prosperity in the world and end up exporting wahabism. I don’t know what the answer to this is.

  5. Speechless…yes we do read such articles very often..why go far my very own classmate was married to her cousin at the age of 16 and she had to quit studying. This was not in Yemen or a small village..This was in Bangalore. Parents were not economically weak or uneducated. We tried dissuading her but were met with deaf ears. Exactly 10 months later he had a girl..another couple of years later a boy. In between went to a series of abortions coz they would not practice conraception. We even told her to take the pill without any ones knowledge..she would have none of it. Well we moved on kid of lost in touch. Recently got to know that her husband died in a car accident and her son was battling for his life. She and her daughter were in the back seat so were kind of saved.

    I have no idea how she is dealing with all this..most of all bringing up 2 teen aged kids without an income. Today all those who forced her into that marriage are no where around. Parents, siblings, well meaning aunts..none.

    When i look at all this..i can only nod in agreement when u say female foeticide isn’t all that bad.

  6. Yes , i remeber reading that news. While it is in no way acceptable , perhaps in that country , within the social strata to which the girl belongs , its normal to get her married off at 13. This case might have been just freak accident among the many many girls who got married at 13.

    Whats the root cause of all this , superstition ? Conditioning ?

    Human mind is a fascinating thing, one moulded or conditioned; it is very difficult to uncondition it. Yet it is this very character of human mind that is being exploited by many in the world today.

    And the main factor for all the superstition and conditioning…religion. History shows that religion has been the cause of slaughter and murder more than any other reason.

    I just add this poor little girl as one of the victims of misinterpreted religion.

    My views on this –

    http://wwwthegroundlevel.blogspot.com/2009/04/for-love-of-god.html

    • i’m sure. but even if its a freak incident… should a 13 year old be getting married off? its one thing for 13 year old kids to experiment with sex with the contemporaries. its a whole other if you’re being handed over to a man twice your age. and this girl fought back and it probably ended with the guy getting more rough. can you imagine the 100s of little terrified girls lying back and enduring in silence because they dont know that they have a right to object.

      • Of course not…no child deserves it. I was just trying to give you my answer to the question that you asked.

        Who’s the real criminal ?

        Religion is my answer.

        • if you ask me, its the damn parents. i dont care how poor you are. at the end of the day, your child is your responsibility. i dont think any religion tells us to do any of this crap. so we cant blame it. and of course with the parents, the priests – the interpreters of the religion

  7. I am just speechless…It’s so sad to see that parents themselves doing this to their own child… I worry about the world that we are exposing will be exposing our kids to…Its hard to believe that we are in the generation where one hand 13 year olds move around with the latest gizmos and dreams in their eyes while somewhere silently another one is getting raped…

  8. Revolting :(. I have to agree – it is the parents’ responsibility to safeguard their child. As far as religion goes, this I guess is the consequence of our religious books being open to (mis) interpretation.
    Sometimes I think we should have amendments to the religious books just like we do to our constitution. But then we would fight over who governs that..

  9. You are so right, I don’t know how the parents get off by calling the husband the criminal? What did they think he’d do to their 13 yr old post marriage? I get poverty, not being able to provide for your kid, but how can this be a solution? No matter how poor you are you can’t do this! Feed her a little less, not like they are sending her to school or buying her toys or anything, how much money do they save by sending her off with a monster like that?

    God getting divorced at 8??? I wasn’t allowed to touch matches or go anywhere on my own, let alone having the guts to stand up in court! Kudos to her!

  10. sorry mm, i cldnt read thru that post. Was too disgusted with affairs of the world after para 1. Am sorry that things like this happen, and just dont have the strength to read abt them..m not that strong.

  11. MM,I absolutely 100% agree with you on this one-the body of that little girl should be laid before her parents and their priest or whoever married her off…I don’t think there’s any religion that condones this-it’s the interpretations that do.

  12. MM, in our own country, children are sold to be trafficked at the age of 3 and 4. And they are raped over and over again. This does not shock me anymore.

  13. — “And why oh why do people take something unacceptable and make it a religious issue? ”

    I liked this statement of yours. When people start using their brains (just common sense, nothing much) the world would be a better place at least for humans. ( I don’t know about Chickens, Cows, Pigs, Fish etc as I don’t know if we are suppose to care for them any way). It’s simple right? use logic and solve problems instead of trying to find out what is written and follow the supposedly telegraphed books from an invisible idiot above.

    But I do not agree with your comments on ‘using religion’ like “…i dont think any religion tells us to do any of this crap” or
    “…saying that Jesus/The Bible would never support anything that spread hatred or harmed anyone”.

    The good thing about above statements is you use common sense to solve problems but the bad thing is you are attributing good things to religion. It may arise due to your hallucination (sorry, for such a strong word) or being emotional instead of logical or you haven’t read much about religious history.( Forgive me for that last assumption).

    Religion was a fiction created by men(and of course, women supported and cried for it) who didn’t understand Universe much. Also Bible (Old Testament) is one of the violent books one would come across. (FYI, I like Yeshua, the man, not that idiotic Christ).

    In short religion is a bunch of stories, most of them moronic. And we try to be sentimental as we have grown up in one and cover religion with all the good and nice things .I’m talking about every religion. Every single religion.

    • 1. i DO believe a lot of good things can be attributed to religion. be it the ten commandments or the gita. maybe its just men writing to fool plebians into behaving… but so be it. as long as the motive is all good.
      2. i dont see what religious history has to do with any of this. and the old Testament is hardly the MOST violent book. it tells tales of war and epidemics, which even a mahabharata or ramayana would do. it doesnt really preach violence. so i dont see your point here either.
      3. i see where you’re going with your point, but you lose most of my respect the moment you forget that all said and done, regardless of your beliefs, you abuse someone’s God. Tell me you dont like the religious dictats, tell me you find the edicts oppressive, tell me you think the holy men are making a fool of us, tell me you think a change is needed…. tell me anything. but try to do it in politer terms. the moment you say “Idiotic Jesus” – you hurt my feelings and i am tempted to delete the comment and ban your url because this is just plain disrespectful to me as well as other christians.
      4. i agree with the last bit about us being attached to religion our of sentiment. which is why i have great respect for those who break out of that and convert to any other set of beliefs. even atheism. but i dont think the stories are moronic. i think the point is to have a moral and its the easiest way to feed it to morons. doesnt make the stories moronic.

      • 1. Yes, that’s right. Good things can also be attributed to religion as they do preach a few good things by the way. But why only religion? why not Aesop’s fables or other such stories? Why so emotional towards religion? Is it because of brain washing day by day about God and it’s greatness?

        2. Yes, religious history has pretty much got to do with why religion is bad. I’m not even talking about slaves, caste, culture eradication etc . I’m just talking about just the festivals, rituals, bans – how they evolved. Most of them show how illogical people were at that time (as they strictly sticked to the in errancy of the ‘holy books’). As time progressed, Men(Women too) became more rational but they didn’t want to loose their Child hood friend ( I mean God). So they hallucinate or come up with how this ‘holy book’ is great and so on – without analyzing it properly.

        3. I take strong objection to your phrase “idiotic Jesus”. I never said that. I wouldn’t any time. I consider Jesus as a rebel who preached bunch of Israelites how they should live life. He will tall stand in my heart as like Pythagoras, Buddha, Gandhi, Einstein, Tesla etc.
        But I proudly use the term ‘Idiotic Christ’ whether you like it or not. It’s my belief on a particular idea called ‘Christ’. I’m not an idiot to hate Christians for that idea. I don’t know what is your problem if I just hate people’s wierd imagination called ‘Christ – The Savior’ as I’m not harming any body.
        In short, I bow to Truth and not to beliefs of billion people.

        NOTE: I hope this doesn’t become an other useless religious debate. I use strong words because I see all religions as people’s ideas and imaginations at the point of creation of religion. The same way I abhor Karl Marx’s ideas. The problem is not with me – the problem is with you all trying to be too sentimental as you get a feeling of ‘peace’ ( really?) by praying to an unknown entity just because you were born in a particular religious family or brain washed by illogical preachers.

        • 1. you make a good point – but its really not our place to tell others what to be emotional about, unless it harms someone, right? that is the only time you have a right to object. so if you admit its teaching good stuff, then its not your business whether they get emotional about it or not. people are emotional about their political beliefs, about Amitabh bachchan and Rajnikant too. so?!

          2. this entire paragraph made no sense.

          3. whatever dude – idiotic jesus or idiotic christ – whatever you say – IS offensive. you can make a 1000 good points but if you havent the sensitivity to make it in a proper way, you’re far more idiotic than the ‘illogical, morons’. i dont thikn you’re a troll, but i do believe you’re too ill-mannered and uncouth to be participating in what is a fair discussion. Stick to the point and stop behaving like a 5 year old using terms like idiot or moron or whatever, when you know very well that they involve other people’s beliefs. people are willing to listen to your argument. not your abuse. so go use your terms proudly in your own space. not here.

          this is not a ‘useless religious debate’. It wasnt until YOU turned up and made it one. so with all due respect, unless your next comment is free of ranting and frothing – i’m not publishing it. stay polite, stay clear, stick to the point – or stay away.

    • Umm, Sir (or is it Ma’am), aren’t you using strong and rather uncalled for words here? I understand and accept your dislike for all religions, but please do educate me on how much of the Bible you have read, to conclude it is violent.

      And who pray, is this Yeshua? And idiotic Christ? That is quite uncalled for.

      And out of sheer curiosity, what makes you so strongly dislike the notion of god? Apathy, I can understand, but such strong dislike?

        • Wow…”that idiotic Christ” hunh? I’m not Christian and I am offended. And no one asks anyone to believe in anything, free will and all that good stuff then why comment on something totally irrelevant? Who’s discussing the intelectual qualities of Jesus Christ here? And what authority to pass judgement (even if you believe the Gods are mostly fictional?)

      • I’m sorry all, for this discussion going completely out of the main content. My intention was that one should not be politically correct by just saying, “Folks! religion always talks good and we as humans interpret it as the wrong way. Feel happy about our great religion and sleep well!” :-).
        Also MM in the last statement said, what SHE thought about Bible and not what EXACTLY Bible says. There is a difference, right? You become close to bible for some reasons and you don’t want it to look bad so you try to cover up with your perception of how a holy book should be. Also, first of all why should any one ‘BELIEVE’ Bible or for that matter any stupid uttering (yes, stupid) like Quran or Bhagavad Gita?
        Am I talking sense at late night? 😉

        I think I have already invested a lot on religion here instead of unnecessary political correctness in dealing with religion. Thanks!

        • no actually you’re NOT talking sense. because any book is open to your own interpretation. and you know – i am sure you have a point to make but its been lost in everything else you’ve said. no one asked you to be politically correct but that doesnt mean you go out of your way to be offensive. huge difference there. think about it.

          • ah! yes, I agree that I screwed up this discussion with statements with no continuity. May be I’ve tried to compress all in a few sentences and failed miserably, even few imp points have been lost in things which should not have been said (I mean ‘idiot’). Blame on my young blood jumping around. I APOLOGIZE.

            I should have simply said, “I don’t like Christ at all”. (The reason why I don’t like him will take a couple of pages to write) .The sad thing is I think I studied religion and it’s people way too much – coupled with personal experiences(which sadly shaped my way of interacting with believers)- that If I don’t like Bible, people might come up with me being evil etc. So I said that though I attacked Bible I like Jesus but not Christ.

            The other thing is I really don’t (really don’t) understand this ‘being Offensive’ business.
            Either you speak the truth (which comes in the realms of Science, Empirical evidence) or you don’t (personal beliefs etc).
            Copernicus/Charles Darwin should not have offended people’s belief’s, right? They should have ‘respected’ peoples beliefs and made people happy, right?

            I’m in a state of reluctance to continue this debate as it is not the space or the way to discuss about religion, beliefs, logic et al.
            And please, don’t ban me as I wish to have an opportunity to comment on your thoughts. Just my wish, It is your blog, you can do whatever you want.

            • astithan – you’re missing the point. you’re most welcome to join in any discussion. you’re welcome to disagree too. as much as you want. what i dont appreciate is the use of words like idiot or moronic when you’re referring to someone’s God or holy book. because you know that it is important to them – one should be able to make a valid point without being rude, right?
              darwin put forward his theory saying – this is what i believe. he didnt say – all of you who believe otherwise are idiots and morons.
              respecting another’s beliefs does not mean saying you BELIEVE them. it means saying, i beg to disagree, without saying – hey, you are being stupid and what you believe in is all rot. i am sure you can appreciate the difference.

  14. It’s not religion at all. Religion is an excuse. Crimes like this can’t be attributed to religion but to the beast in us, the coward who can’t stand up for one’s own or another human being’s rights.

  15. You know MM, I have read such stories before and I have had reactions to it. But now, being the mother of a 4 month old girl, my reactions are at a completely different level. Almost animal. The repulsiveness that I feel towards such people is physically making me retrench.

    I am a firm supporter of pro-choice for abortion and birth control – mainly for reasons like this. If people cannot shoulder responsibility for another human being, please please give them an option to end it early. At least then , we wont have to hear about 13 year olds living in hell every day of their lives.

    Religion is one of my pet peeves. I guess I am a cultural Hindu – I celebrate the festivals, and I pray the Hindu way. But I will never ever submit myself entirely to a book or to some person who asks me to shut my mind off and follow without question because it is so. I think God gave us a brain because she wants us to think. To use it. I feel there is no worse violation of God than to shut our minds off.

    • 🙂 you wanna get lynched? the last time I said that the way i feel about stretchmarks is different since i became a mother – there was a vicious hate campaign targetted at me across the internet.

      yes – its also the reason why i am theoretically pro-choice although i do feel, as i’d mentioned long ago, that black and white are not the only options. grey exists. adoption exists. pro-life isnt just a way to ruin the mother’s life – its a way to ensure that no life is harmed in the making of this commercial!

      you know how the jains live. they wont kill anyone, so if a rat enters their homes and they dont want it, they’ll catch it and set it free somewhere in a forest. where it wont harm their lives…

      another point – communities that are so orthodox wont believe in birth control either.. so you can bet that abortions are not an option.

      • You know MM, I started reading this comment from the top and when I came to Clueless’ line “But now, being the mother of a 4 month old girl…”, I was reminded of the entire hoopla last year. And then had an aha moment when you also mentioned it in your reply. I sort of never understood what the offence-worthy stuff was. I always say things like “Ever since I got married..” or “Ever since I quit coffee..”, I don’t mean to hurt unmarrieds or coffee-addicts. Hell, I’ve been there too 😀 I was just a big lurker back then on many of the blogs involved. But from what I remember, some of it bordered on typical bullying behaviour. Well, what’s done is done and I guess all for the better.

        And since this is very off topic, feel free to not publish 🙂

  16. Religion is like a pain killer, when pain killer is taken in the right dose at the right time eases the pain, but erratic use leads a person to be drug addict and he/she is called drug abuser.

    Religion and religious thoughts gives a lot of peace and hope when followed sensibly, but the moment you start twisting the logics of it, then you are abusing it instead of using it your spiritual upliftment.

  17. Your post and the links brought back to me memories from the day I watched “The Bandit Queen”. I shuddered and clenched my fists as did several others in the audience. Noone can ever come close to feeling how these victims suffer and are then victimized by the social norms.The more we talk about,the less it is. Because we all know that no matter how advanced society is, there will still be one more animal like this with no respect. This is so deep rooted it is insane. Have heard so much about your blog and am hooked from this moment on.

  18. It is a religious as well as parenting issue. The only way I can find some logic in the mothers’ decisions is by convincing myself that they too must have endured early marriages and marital rape. Since they survived they figured their girls will too. How else can we explain a mother mutilating her daughter’s genitals, forcing her into sexual slavery in the guise of marriage or killing her daughter to restore her family’s honor?

  19. Just randomly got into your blog and this is topic that is keeping me puzzled very lately. Its one thing to see it as news, completely another thing to have her as your babysitter, isnt it? We found out that she had been married off as a child and ran away from the village from her sister’s employer – the day we discussed about “how good a worker she is, but how she cant ever stop lying and worse stealing!”… The stealing part gets down to things as silly as milk packets and she assumes we cant find out! She is an amazing good worker though. The day before we finally discovered for sure that she has a darker side she talked to me about options for suicide for girls who are married off as children (I said 14? she said no, much early!) and have run away and are in love with another guy … She was quoting it as a story of a friend’s. But I had carefully replied, I think she should marry the man she loves and make her own money and live happily – she seemed to agree!
    Dont know what to do with her … Excellent house worker though …
    and the funniest park is she things I am a fool and I dont know anything! I have a hard time telling her, her lies are too fragile and her stealing is too unskilled! 🙂 …
    So I remain forever the confused employee! Just venting it out here! :))) …

  20. For the really curious readers, she is from Bijapur Karnataka. I am told this kind of child marriage is a lot common in Karnataka, yes even in 2010!

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  22. …and what is more difficult is to keep your sanity, to continue to have faith in what you have been socially trained to believe as The Truth…every day I wonder how something that gives me the framework to make meaning of my life can give someone else the road map to so much hatred for their gender.and the stunt with the Quran over their head just raised another generation with the same level of self hatred , sadomasochism at play here….
    But what is important is that you dont go the Manji way and give up on your religious training . To stay in and see the fight through and to continue to make something beautiful of what you believe in.
    (And I think this goes for the whole Old Testament, violent readings of the Hindu epics et al.)

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