Sunday, June 23, 2013
Young Iranian Girls, as Young as 9, Getting Married !
A new report on Iran is revealing that an estimated 850,000 young girls there are married -- many of them as young as 9-10 and some of them married off to an ''elderly man'' in payment of debt. The report on this archaic practice was compiled by Y. Mansharof, a research fellow, and A. Savyon, director of the Iranian Media Project. Both are with the Middle East Media Research Institute (http://www.memri.org) They explain there has been an increasingly intense public debate about the number of social issues inside of Iran. ''One such issue is the phenomenon (?) of marriages involving children, including children under the age 10 -- especially arranged marriages of girls to adult men, or even to elderly men,'' they wrote.
They add further, ''Under Iranian law, girls may marry at 13 and boys at 15, and children under 10 may marry with the approval of their guardian and the court. According to official statistics, about one million children, even under age 10, are married. The statistics also show that 85% of this amount are girls -- meaning that most of them are married to grown men.'' They noted that public figures such as sociologists inside the regime, are bravely warning that the number of children marrying is rising and that creates both health and social risks.
''According to one sociologist, arranging marriages for children, especially girls, is common among poor and uneducated urban families that seek a way out of dire financial straits; that the girls themselves are severely damaged both genitally and psychologically,'' the report stated. Officials of the Islamic government naturally came out and said they were not alarmed. A regime spokesmen have denied the extant of this foul tradition and shrugged off the report saying, ''child marriage is legal in Iran and that preventing it is against Islamic law.'' Islamist law specifies that girls reach maturity at age 9, once menstruation begins, and not accounting for their mental maturity.
This shameful tradition goes back to the time of Muhammad in seventh-century Arabia where his drug-induced (?) messages from the angel Gabrielle were put down as writings to make the Koran (Qur'an). After his first wife, Khadija bint Kewaylid died, he married his second wife, Sawda bint Zam'a. In his late-forties, some misplaced desire arose when he visited the trusted companion's home of Abu Bakr and saw 6 year old Aisha playing in the yard. Soon after, with Abu's consent, Aisha was betrothed to Muhammad. By nine the marriage was consummated as wife number three. Her age reinforced her pre-monarchical status and implicitly, her virginity which gave Mohammad increased stature and respect among his followers. His comments on the joy of pre-period virginity led to a continuation of this practice amongst his followers down through the centuries. Oh yes, after Aisha was in the fold, he married 10 more women before he died at 63.
The Iranian cultural and scientific website www.Iranvij.ir noted that young girls ''lacked the required physical maturity for pregnancy.'' In an article published on a website identified with Iranian Human Rights activists operating outside Iran, Ali Tayefi warned that ''the early marriage of an immature girl who is not physically ready for sexual relations, particularly with men of advanced age, has many health consequences (for her). Studies have indicated that there is a close link between maternal age and maternal mortality (during pregnancy). In early marriage and pregnancy, at 9 through 14, there are five times more deaths, for mothers and also for infants, compared with older women 20-25. Then there is the infections from husbands carrying STDs contracted during relations they had with other women.''
Change in the law and practice, however, isn't easy. When a panel discussion was held recently on the damage from child marriages, members called for changes, but they also underlined that the Islamic factor (paedophilia) is an obstacle to legislative and cultural change. Sociologist Gharai-Moghadam said that newer existing law, which sets 13 for girls and 15 for boys as the minimal age for marriage, is not sufficient because it does not address the custom widespread in various parts of the country to arranged marriages for children under the age of 10. He said, ''The law in itself is good, but we must also consider this custom in society, because unfortunately in some of our cities, especially in the east and north, marriage under 10 is considered customary by emulating the Prophet.''
The Way I See It.....after reading the Qur'an twice, I know what it says about marriage: that it is valid only between consenting adults, and that a woman has a right to choose her own spouse. As the living embodiment of Islam, Muhammad's actions reflect his disregard for his own writings on marriage. Firstly, Aisha didn't choose Mohammad, he choose her at the ripe old age of 6! Then at 9, how could she be considered an adult when she hadn't had her first period yet? On both counts the Prophet is hypocrite!
Sadly, in many countries, even now in Muslim ghettos in Europe, the imperatives motivating the marriage of young girls are typically economic. In others, they are political. The fact that Iran and its intolerant neighbour, Saudi Arabia, have both sought to use the history concerning Aisha's age as justification of keeping the legal age low, tells us a great deal about the patriarchal and oppressive nature of those regimes or the essential nature of Islam. The stridency of those who lend credence to these literalist interpretations by concurring with their warped view of modern day Islam does not help those Muslims who seek to challenge these aberrations.