Basira

Across the Arab region, an essential part of our educational curriculum was the study of Islam as a religion of both justice and mercy. Passing the tests of our religion was even a prerequisite of acceptance into universities. Besides Quranic texts, we were taught the words and acts of the Prophet: his battles with other tribes and the stories of his marriages, particularly to Aisha because of his special love to  her and her influence on Muslims later on. I recall clearly how we were taught that she was six when he married her. And at that time no one dared to argue how could a six years old get married Nowadays there is an ongoing debate trying to prove that she was engaged to him at six years of age, but the actual marriage took place when she was nine. Others are trying to prove that she was 18, if not more, at the time of marriage.
Regardless of the result of which age the prophet married Aisha, we can loudly say that what was appropriate in those days is not acceptable for today, and this kind of marriage in the 21st century, is a crime, both against the girl and against society.

Still in modern times we find political Islam still urging and encouraging this phenomena under the justification of emulating the acts of the Prophet. And no one can prophet what is clearly allowed in the religion.

The refusal of the Muslim Brotherhood to accept the last CSW call to end violence against women in all Arab Spring countries confirms the use of two  disguises: firstly that Muslims cannot prohibit a right that is allowed in Islam, and secondly that any attempt from the UN to force any Muslim country to ban underage marriage is considered an interference in Muslims’ cultural privacy.

Underage marriage is legitimized through the legal system in Arab States. We have witnessed many cases of death of young girls at various ages from nine to fourteen, due to severe bleeding at the wedding night, and others while giving birth. The practice of underage marriage is blooming in Syrian refugee camps where older men come to get married to young and vulnerable Syrian girls.

Let us also look at the human rights violations such marriages permit. It is a deliberate crime against the young girl who will be denied her right to education and her rights as a child. Many of such marriages take place between young girls and old men whom think that marrying a young girl will help renew their un-renewable youth. Such marriages carry extremely harmful consequences on a young girl’s physical health, such as disturbance of her monthly period, tearing of her sexual organs, and bleeding while giving birth which has led to death in many cases. In addition there are the psychological consequences such as nervous breakdowns, which lead to hysterical behaviours or depression that could lead to suicide, or even constant fear from the sexual relations, which can lead to a one-sided relationship that is based on verbal and physical abuse.

The worst implication of such marriage on the society is on the physiological health of this society as a whole, and the continuous reaffirming of a culture that looks down on women and deny them all their rights.

This practice is well accepted in Yemen and other Arab-Muslim countries, and was re-emphasized after what so called the Arab spring, through denial of the countries to raise the girl’s age of marriage.

Basira calls upon United Nations to force these countries to change such barbaric law and to criminalize this marriage.