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Is Child Marriage a Muslim Problem?

Laxmi Sargara

Laxmi Sargara, 18, holds her certificate of the annullment of her marriage outside the court Tuesday in Jodhpur, India.

Loons often attribute child marriages exclusively to Muslims, but a Unicef report says 47 percent of married women in India wed before age 18. Unicef also says 40 percent of the world’s child marriages take place in secular, Hindu-majority India.

As this map clearly shows, the practice is widespread in many parts of the world, most notably in parts of Africa:

Child Marriage Map

Disregarding anthropology (the comparative study of human societies) and eager to pin every social ill on Islam, anti-Muslim activists portray child marriage as unique to Muslim communities, and cite Islamic Law as a major obstacle to ending the practice. In fact, most Muslim-majority countries have legal age limits for marriage comparable to Western countries. According to the United Nations, in Algeria, Bangladesh, Iraq, Jordan, Malaysia, and Morocco, the legal age a female can marry is 18, and in Tunisia, it’s 20.  Most of the remaining Muslim-majority countries have ages set for females ranging from 15-17, and in all of these countries, the age for boys is either the same or slightly higher. India has also set the legal limit to age 18, but as is the case in many countries, the law is difficult to enforce, especially in rural areas, where historical, cultural, and economic factors often outweigh legal restrictions.

Akha Teej  is considered an auspicious day, when one does not have to consult any astrologer. This is the best time for marriages … Even our epics mention about child marriages. There is no harm in performing it, as the children do not live together and stay together only after attaining adulthood. ~ Priest in Rajasthan, Al Jazeera

Recently police and administration officials were injured when they were attacked by a group of villagers conducting child marriages in Rajasthan on the holy day of Akshaya Tritiya. Now a young Indian woman has won a landmark case that challenges the culture of child weddings. (h/t: Zangia)

Indian baby bride Laxmi Sargara wins annulment in landmark case

By msnbc.com staff

An Indian woman who was a baby bride has had her 17-year marriage legally annulled in a ground-breaking case challenging the culture of child weddings, Agence France Presse reported Wednesday.

Laxmi Sargara was 1 year old when she was married to a 3-year-old boy named Rakesh in the desert state of Rajasthan in northwestern India, the French news agency said. Their families decided that when they grew up they would live together and have children.

Child marriages, outlawed in India in 1929, are still common in many parts of the country, especially in rural and poorer communities, AFP said. A Unicef report says 47 percent of married women in India wed before age 18. Unicef also says 40 percent of the world’s child marriages take place in India.

“I was unhappy about the marriage,” Sargara, now 18, told AFP. “I told my parents who did not agree with me, then I sought help. Now I am mentally relaxed and my family members are also with me.”

Girls married off in infancy often remain in their parents’ homes until they reach puberty and then are taken amid great celebrations to their husbands’ families, AFP said. When Sargara just days ago discovered that she was married and would be sent to her husband’s home this week, she sought advice from social worker Kriti Bharti, who runs the children’s rights group Sarathi Trust, AFP said.

Bharti negotiated with Rakesh, the groom, who only uses one name, and both families to persuade them that the marriage was unfair, AFP reported. “It is the first example we know of a couple wed in childhood wanting the marriage to be annulled, and we hope that others take inspiration from it,” Bharti told AFP.

Rakesh, an earth-mover driver, at first wanted to press ahead with the relationship but was convinced by Sargara’s fierce opposition that the marriage should be revoked, Bharti said. The marriage was annulled through a joint legal document signed by the bride and groom and validated by a public official in Jodhpur, AFP said.

“To ensure that the girl does not face any problem in future, we decided to go for a legal agreement,” said Indu Chaupra, local director of the ministry of women and child development, told AFP.

The annulment coincided with the Akshaya Tritiya festival, a traditional date for mass child weddings. On Sunday, villagers in Rajasthan attacked and injured at least 12 government officials who tried to stop a wedding of about 40 child couples, AFP said. A recent survey found that 10 percent of girls in Rajasthan are married off before the age of 18, the BBC reported.

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  • ravi

    1. The Hindu Woman has no right to divorce her husband.
    2. She has no property or inheritance rights.

    3. Choice of partner is limited because she can only marry within her own caste; moreover her horoscope must match that of the intending bridegroom/family.

    4. The family of the girl has to offer an enormous dowry to the bridegroom/family.

    5. If her husband dies she should commit Sati (being cremated with her dead husband). Since today’s law forbids Sati, society mainly punishes her in other “holy” ways (see below).

    6. She cannot remarry.

    7. The widow is considered to be a curse and must not be seen in public. She cannot wear jewelry or colourful clothes. (She should not even take part in her children’s marriage!)

    8. Child and infant marriage is encouraged.

    ——————————————————————————–

    The Muslim Woman:
    1.The Muslim woman has the same right as the Muslim man in all matters including divorce.
    2. She enjoys property and inheritance rights. (Which other religion grants women these rights?). She can also conduct her own separate business.

    3. She can marry any Muslim of her choice. If her parents choose a partner for her, her consent must be taken.

    4. The dowry in Islam is a gift from a husband to his wife (not the other way around as is practiced by some ignorant Muslims).

    5. A Muslim widow is encouraged to remarry, and her remarriage is the responsibility of the Muslim society.

    6.Mixed marriage is encouraged and is a means to prevent racism creeping in society.

    7. A Muslim mother is given the highest form of respect.

    What right do the Hindus have to criticize the Muslims? Have you ever heard of a Muslim burning his wife? In parts of India women die daily of dowry deaths – Hindu women being burnt by the husband or in-laws. The Brahmins are trying to claim that Muslims do not give freedom to their women. I ask you again. “Do the Hindus respect their women?”

    You be the judge.

    Experience of a Converted Hindu Woman
    My Experiences and How I Find that Islam does not Oppress Women
    by by Sister Noor

    I came from a purely Hindu family where we were always taught to regard ourselves (i.e. women) as beings who were eventually to be married off and have children and serve the husband – whether he was kind or not. Other than this I found that there were a lot of things which really oppressed women, such as:
    * If a woman was widowed, she would always have to wear a white sari (costume), eat vegetarian meals, cut her hair short, and never re-marry. The bride always had to pay the dowry (bridal money) to the husband’s family. And the husband could ask for anything, irrespective of whether the bride would have difficulty giving it.
    * Not only that, if after marriage she was not able to pay the full dowry she would be both emotionally and physically tortured, and could end up being a victim of “kitchen death” where the husband, or both the mother-in-law and the husband try to set fire to the wife while she is cooking or is in the kitchen, and try to make it look like an accidental death. More and more of these instances are taking place. The daughter of a friend of my own father’s had the same fate last year!

    * In addition to all this, men in Hinduism are treated literally as among the gods. In one of the religious Hindu celebrations, unmarried girls pray for and worship an idol representing a particular god (Shira) so that they may have husbands like him. Even my own mother had asked me to do this. This made me see that the Hindu religion which is based on superstitions and things that have no manifest proof , but were merely traditions which oppressed women could not be right.

    Subsequently, when I came to England to study, I thought that at least this is a country which gives equal rights to men and women, and does not oppress them. We all have the freedom to do as we like, I thought. Well, as I started to meet people and make new friends, learn about this new society, and go to all the places my friends went to in order to “socialise” (bars, dance halls, etc.). I realised that this “equality” was not so true in practice as it was in theory.
    Outwardly, women were seen to be given equal rights in education, work, and so forth, but in reality women were still oppressed in a different, more subtle way. When I went with my friends to those places they hung out at, I found everybody interested to talk to me and I thought that was normal. But it was only later that I realised how naïve I was, and recognised what these people were really looking for. I soon began to feel uncomfortable, as if I was not myself: I had to dress in a certain way so that people would like me, and had to talk in a certain way to please them. I soon found that I was feeling more and more uncomfortable, less and less myself, yet I could not get out. Everybody was saying they were enjoying themselves, but I don’t call this enjoying.

    I think women in this way of life are oppressed; they have to dress in a certain way in order to please and appear more appealing, and also talk in a certain way so people like them. During this time I had not thought about Islam, even though I had some Muslim acquaintances. But I felt I really had to do something, to find something that I would be happy and secure with, and would feel respected with. Something to believe in that is the right belief, because everybody has a belief that they live according to. If having fun by getting off with other people is someone’s belief, they do this. If making money is someone’s belief, they do everything to achieve this. If they believe drinking is one way to enjoy life then they do it. But I feel all this leads to nowhere; no one is truly satisfied, and the respect women are looking for is diminishing in this way.

    In these days of so called “society of equal rights”, you are expected to have a boyfriend (or you’re weird!) and to not be a virgin. So this is a form of oppression even though some women do not realise it. When I came to Islam, it was obvious that I had finally found permanent security. A religion, a belief that was so complete and clear in every aspect of life. Many people have a misconception that Islam is an oppressive religion, where women are covered from head to toe, and are not allowed any freedom or rights. In fact, women in Islam are given more rights, and have been for the past 1400 years, compared to the only-recently rights given to non-Muslim women in some western and some other societies. But there are, even now, societies where women are still oppressed, as I mentioned earlier in relation to Hindu women.

    Muslim women have the right to inheritance. They have the right to run their own trade and business. They have the full right to ownership, property, disposal over their wealth to which the husband has no right. They have the right to education, a right to refuse marriage as long as this refusal is according to reasonable and justifiable grounds. The Qur’an itself, which is the Word of God, contains many verses commanding men to be kind to their wives and stressing the rights of women. Islam gives the right set of rules, because they are NOT made by men, but made by God; hence it is a perfect religion.

    Quite often Muslim women are asked why they are covered from head to toe, and are told that this is oppression – it is not. In Islam, marriage is an important part of life, the making of the society. Therefore, a woman should not go around showing herself to everybody, only for her husband. Even the man is not allowed to show certain parts of his body to none but his wife. In addition, God has commanded Muslim women to cover themselves for their modesty:

    “O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (veils) over their bodies (when outdoors). That is most convenient that they could be known as such (i.e. decent and chaste) and not molested.” (Qur’an 33:59)
    If we look around at any other society, we find that in the majority of cases women are attacked and molested because of how they are dressed. Another point I’d like to comment on is that the rules and regulation laid down in Islam by God do not apply just to women but to men also. There is no intermingling and free-running between men and women for the benefit of both. Whatever God commands is right, wholesome, pure and beneficial to mankind; there is no doubt about that. A verse in the Qur’an explains this concept clearly:

    “Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and protect their private parts (i.e. from indecency, illegal sexual acts, etc.); that will make for greater purity for them. And God is well aware of what they do. And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and protect their private parts (from indecency, illegal sexual intercourse, etc.); and that they should not display their beauty and ornaments . . . ” (Qur’an, Surah Al-Nur 24:31)
    When I put on my hijab (veil), I was really happy to do it. In fact, I really want to do it. When I put on the hijab, I felt a great sense of satisfaction and happiness. Satisfied that I had obeyed God’s command. And happy with the good and blessings that come with it. I have felt secure and protected. In fact people respect me more for it. I could really see the difference in behaviour towards me.

    Finally, I’d like to say that I had accepted Islam not blindly, or under any compulsion. In the Qur’an itself there is a verse which says “Let there be no compulsion in religion”. I accepted Islam with conviction. I have seen, been there, done that, and seen both sides of the story. I know and have experienced what the other side is like, and I know that I have done the right thing. Islam does not oppress women, but rather Islam liberates them and gives them the respect they deserve. Islam is the religion God has chosen for the whole of mankind. Those who accept it are truly liberated from the chains and shackles of mankind whose ruling and legislating necessitates nothing but the oppression of one group by another and the exploitation and oppression of one sex by the other. This is not the case of Islam which truly liberated women and gave them an individuality not given by any other authority.

    Sister Noor embraced Islam while an undergraduate studying in the
    Department of Biology at the University of Essex, U. K.

    ——————————————————————————–

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  • Géji

    Sir David Says: “Ummer is a big boy And CAN défend himself. Since I have said i Will not comment further i wont comment to his parrot either”

    Sir David, I don’t think he ‘CAN défend himself’ on this thread anymore, his comments are no longer posted remember?. But I wasn’t even trying to defend his position, which I don’t agree anyway, apart him being almost correct about the “UN” being a crappy organisation always under the boots of western empires. My comment to you was in light as well as AJ rightfully noted that “this thread has gone wild with accusations”, and sorry to say but as-well as the road of baseless personal attacks you and IbnAbuTalib went-down regarding Ummer. You guys don’t have to agree with what the guy says, but for God sake, throwing shameful ‘accusations’ on someone none of you personally even meet its a bit thick. So although it was totally stupid of him to say the Quran “labels you as a criminal”, that’s why I’ve said you shouldn’t either “label” him as such, just because he seem to have different views and even though some of those views seem a bit off-track.

    Bonne Journée a vous aussi Monsieur David. No hard feelings, J’espere!

  • Sir David : Man on a phone with a french spell check

    Geji
    Ummer is a big boy And CAN défend himself. Since I have said i Will not comment further i wont comment to his parrot either 🙂
    Have a Nice day

    Sir David

  • IbnAbuTalib

    Geji: Agree or disagree, Ummer makes you think outside the Cloister-box.

    No he doesn’t.

  • Géji

    Oh! I’ve forgot on the thread ….. UN and Palestine? what a joy group, add that to haleuia!

  • Géji

    Sir David Illuminati membership number 16.69 Says: ‘I want to defend children from your desires’

    Are you Sir David! Perhaps if you mind the Quran treading you as ‘criminal’, you shouldn’t!

  • Géji

    Agree or disagree, Ummer makes you think outside the Cloister-box.

  • AJ

    I have been away from Loonwatch for a few days and this thread has gone wild with accusations. For the record I do not support child marriage nor do I support child sex (without marriage)!

  • Sir David : Man on a phone with a french spell check

    Garibaldi
    Ok I would just like to point out i made those posts before you made your desision I would not post such posts if I knew someone could not reply. I always play fair.
    Sir David

  • Garibaldi

    Likewise SirDavid, stop addressing Ummer since he will not have a chance to respond in this thread, you alls discussion on the UN trafficking children or not has been exhausted.

  • Sir David Illuminati membership number 16.69

    Ummer
    Where is the evidence that most of the sex trafficing in the world is due to the UN?
    I have worked with people trafficed by Triads , Russian, Rumainian , Albanian and Nigerian gangs . Are you claiming they are all part of the UN?

  • Sir David Illuminati membership number 16.69

    Yup I hate war
    Why is that wrong ?One assumes therefore you like war .
    You are nuts .
    Where does the Quran lable none believers criminals ?
    Must have missed that bit .

  • Garibaldi

    This thread is not going anywhere any more it seems. Ummer you seem to be going off the deep end here now, you expressed your opinion and ample space was given to air your views. Anymore comments will not be approved.

  • IbnAbuTalib

    Ummer, will you shut up if I buy a blowup doll?

  • Ummer

    “Amar”, I personally do not trust your new sources. Specifically the one backed by the UN…!

    Because we know that most of the sex trafficking is done by the UN backed organizations. And your second article almost reads like “MOZLEMS ARE DENY WOMEN THEIR RIGHTS! LET’S BOMB THEM! FREEDOM FOR WOMEN FROM MARRIAGES!!”

    Nah that doesn’t work with me.

    “A recent survey by the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) found that over 60 percent of trafficking in women and children was internal” – yeah… because they had the women lined in front of them and are most like involved in the pedophilia for the mercinaries and what not. But no your article wants us to believe Afghan men are the evil ones, not the contractors who need a couple of women and children after a hard days work of killing afghans.

  • Ummer

    Sir David, you don’t believe in God, the quran labels you as a criminal. But rather than accepting that, you want to label the muslim as a criminal who attacks children. No we don’t attack children, neither do we promote pedophilia or rape. Neither do we promote sexual relations outside marriage… and no, marriage is not something that comes about by force but obviously lead to annulment. Neither do we put women in camps and teach them that abortions are Pepsi yum, and condoms are like candy.

    I know you don’t understand religion, or religious morals… but a muslim is taught against talking about another person while that person is right there with them.

    Question, who is this “Ummar” you address?

    Muslims be law abiding? Even if that law is against their religion? What a load of nonsense! We have no need to abide by UN legal dictate which is actually against the law of the land.

    You want to defend women from another’s desires? From their desire for your own desire? I see…

    Why are you not willing to address the issue that you are teaching women to be children, yes those 15 year old females… most of whom are adult women, brainwashed to believe otherwise. Personally I wonder if you actually know that they are not there to learn how to be adults. Maybe you do believe that the system you’re part of and have never questioned it?

    Yes the prophet protected men, women and children. But he didn’t force women into believing they were children. They were given their rights. And actually according to arab custom, 15 was the age that a person could go to war, but no… you’d disagree with even war, now wouldn’t you?

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