Sunday, December 25, 2016

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh: Child Marriage on the Rise

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How Islamic laws are leading to more child marriages.


The rate of child marriage is increasing exponentially in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, and even some Muslim communities in the West. The U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child has warned Iran over the rise in child marriages and for allowing sex and execution at age 9.
Leila, 10 years old, thought she was playing a childhood game. A game that involved wearing a white dress and pretending to be a bride. But soon the game became a nightmare.
My mother, whose experience I wrote about in a book, had a similar story of how her marriage came to be. Leila’s story represents many children whose childhood comes to an end when they are forced into marriage.
Leila told Radio Farda of the Radio Free Europe: "It was nighttime and I was asleep. My neighbors rang the doorbell and came in and put a ring on my finger."
She pointed out, "That's how I got married…. I didn't know what I was doing. I remember well, my hands were shaking."
She added that the groom was confidant and that, "He wasn't afraid at all. But I was very afraid."
Leila stated,
I wanted to tell Ali that the game was over. Let's go to sleep and tomorrow I would go back to my mother's house and help her with sewing… Even now as I talk about it, my hands are shaking. You can’t imagine how hard it was for me.
Accordingly, her husband, Ali, was determined to have sexual intercourse on the day of the wedding, even though Leila had yet to reach puberty. After a painful experience, Leila went to the doctor. The doctor advised her not to worry: "She said it was hard at first but that I would get well later…She said I shouldn't worry if I bleed again after sleeping with my husband."
Another Leila from Afghanistan was forced into marriage at age 13. Now, at age 15, she has a six-month-old child. She told Institute of War and Peace Reporting (IWPR):
When you get married, you can’t go to school, can’t play with your friends and you have to forget all your own wishes…especially when you become a mother, then a world full of problems opens up to you and you suffer for the rest your life.
 According to a July 2016 UN report, the majority of Afghan girls marry before the age of 19 and “a full 40 percent of these marriages involve girls between the ages of 10-13 years old.”


Muslim child brides in Sri Lanka are another example. According to Dawn newspaper, Haniffa recalls her marriage to an alcoholic:
I was studying in grade eight. It was December 8. When I came home there was a man outside our home. My parents were at their hired agricultural labor work. He tried to grab me and I shouted. Neighbors gathered and when my parents arrived soon after, this stranger asked them permission to marry me. They consented immediately because the neighbors said my reputation had been lost.