Abuse of Sonogram is a big story in India. In its first show, called Satyamev Jayate (truth ultimately triumphs), in May this year, it featured female feticide. The show has turned India upside down and new laws are being passed to prevent the abuse. A salesman sells the sonogram machine to the Doctors as an investment that will return their capital in six months, and unchecked income continues after that by performing abortions – not male babies but female babies. Guardian reports 6 million girl abortions in the last decade in India, reconfirmed by ABC news i.e., aborting 50,000 female babies a month.
Child marriages , jihad for sexual health and education is a must,what you sayminister for womanaffairs?
It seems that we as a nation are full of contradictions. It sometimes feels as though many of our leaders, their cohorts and organisations are suffering from a weak form of schizophrenia. They appear to be holding two conflicting views simultaneously.
On the one hand we all abhor the abandoning of babies left to die in some drain or dump. At the same time we cane Malay women for illicit sex who actually don’t leave their babies to die. All of this while also offering single Malay mothers financial help. What are we to make of all this?
Bear in mind that on average, there is an illegitimate Malay child being born every half an hour in Malaysia last year. This statistic is according to a Berita Harian report dated March 21, 2010 which said 17,303 Malay children were born out of wedlock in 2009 and given birth certificates.
By that number we would have to cane a Malay woman every half an hour, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Surely that can’t be right.
What we should do is encourage the legitimisation of the child. The punishments should not be so severe as to actually encourage the abandonment of the innocent baby or the concealment of the identity of the father. Perhaps a token fine for the father will do so that he will own up to his responsibility. Scaring him with canings, prison and the like would be counterproductive. The mother and child, of course, deserve our utmost sympathy and support
Two girls attend a carnival marking the United Nations Universal Children’s Day, in Shah Alam Nov 22, 2009. — Reuters pic
— Child marriages are a hot issue in Malaysia. Sometime in March 2010, the media blasted news of a Kelantanese man who married an 11-year-old, and to all and sundry, it would seem that it is a common practice, though rarely disclosed to the public. Another case of a 14-year-old married to an older man was reported, too.
The personal histories of Malaysians are rife with stories of an older generation andancestors married off at a very young age. From fixed marriages to brokered ones, very few elderly relatives married at a more mature age. Even the men married young, as compared to today’s generation of men who marry at a much later age.
So why the hue and cry, when it was a more acceptable and common practice before? If one is to cite abuse and violence towards young women, then one can argue abuse and violence exists in every generation. No one is trivialising the issues of violence in this matter, but perhaps in this day and age, with even more complex health matters such as sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS, child marriages are not to be encouraged.
Why do child marriages happen and where?
Child marriages happen in disenfranchised and poor countries. It is at most an economic decision. One way for a family to off-load a daughter who is considered a burden to them is to marry her off. The husband could be young or old.
Despite the many articles found of the Internet on how Islam forbids child marriages, the practice can be found in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. The numbers may not be as many as before, in countries that are progressive such as Malaysia, but it does happen.
For many aghast at the phenomenon, they question whether this is part of a growing “Islamisation” trend; it is not. It is unfortunate that such a practice is happening in Muslim countries, and many Muslims abhor the very idea.
In the case of Shamsudin Ajaib who married an 11-year-old girl, it is a clear case of a paedophile who hid behind the veneer of piety and a religious cult.
Those uneducated on Syariah matters and faced with a charismatic “religious” personality may fall into the trap of allowing their young daughters marry very much older men. A very misguided interpretation of the Prophet Mohammad’s (PBUH) marriage to Aisyah is used and bandied about to the parents and men. Get this right: Child marriage in Islam is abhorred.
The history of child marriages in Malaysia so far has been oral and anecdotal. A quick research on the Internet revealed very little of the phenomenon in the country. However, many researchers acknowledge that the practice is still happening, but it is not recorded.
Page 42 of the 2010 UNGASS Country Progress Report on HIV, disclosed the following: It would appear that almost 500 girls under 14 years of age were, at least, planning or preparing to get married in 2009. Premarital HIV screening has been made a requirement by the respective State Religious Departments for all perspective Malay Muslim couples wanting to get married. It is evident that these girls took the necessary tests and the tests were recorded.
The following data from the 2000 Malaysian Census revealed that:
• Of the estimated 3.6 million girls under-15, 0.2 per cent were recorded as married, amounting to an estimated 6,800 girls. 26 per cent (an estimated 1,800 girls) were in Selangor, 20 per cent (1,350 girls) in Sabah and 10 per cent (700 girls) in Sarawak.
• The highest incidence was in Sabah (0.28 per cent of population below 15), followed by Melaka (0.27 per cent), Penang & Selangor (0.24 per cent), and Johor, Pahang and Sarawak (0.21 per cent). Kelantan had an incidence of 0.10 per cent, Kedah 0.06 per cent, both lower than Perak at 0.16 per cent.
• The ethnic composition of girls under-15 who are married, with incidence in brackets: Malay — 2,450 (0.12 of total population under 15); Other Bumiputera — 1,550 (0.33); Chinese — 1,600 (0.24); Indian — 600 (0.26) and others — 600 (0.36).
One can only assume these young girls are married to boys slightly older than they, or in their 20s. The ages of their partners were not disclosed. What are the sexual histories of their husbands? It would be idealistic to say that all these men were virgins and faithful to their young wives. It would also be presumptuous to make a blanket statement that these men were not faithful, virgins and did not practice un-safe sex. Who’s to know?
However, it would be foolhardy not to consider their sexual histories in this day of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS, The Ministry of Health Malaysia found that as of December 2009, less than 10 per cent of the overall 87,710 reported HIV cases were women and girls (2010 UNGASS Country Progress Report Malaysia).
Young women and girls lack negotiating power which puts them at risk of sexual exploitation and violence. Sexual health studies indicate that more young people in Malaysia are engaging in sexual intercourse before the age of 18 (WHO 2005: Sexual and Reproductive Health of Adolescents and Youths in Malaysia: A review of literature and projects 2005. WHO — Western pacific Region)
To add more fuel to the fire, the ignorance among young Malaysian women is worrying. The Kotex Bodylife IQ Test, which was conducted regionally in 2009, found that Malaysian young women were most ignorant about pregnancy. They also ranked the lowest when it came to knowledge of virginity issues. Some snapshots from the survey:
• 24 per cent young Malaysian women believe you can lose your virginity by riding a bike;
• 38 per cent do not know that menses and urine do not flow from the same hole;
• 57 per cent do not know where their hymen is.
From the health aspect, child marriages are a time bomb waiting to go off.
Legally, for non-Muslims under The Law Reform (Marriage & Divorce) Act 1976 which came in force on March 1, 1982, under Section 12, a groom aged below 18, is not allowed to marry; if aged between 18 to 21 the parents must consent to the marriage and if he is 21 and above the consent of parent is not required.
If the bride is below 16, she is not allowed to marry; aged between 16 and18, the chief minister must consent to the marriage; aged between 18 and 21 the parents must consent to the marriage and if she is 21 and above, the consent of the parents is not required.
Both parties must willingly consent to the marriage. It’s an offence to force or threaten someone to compel him/her to marry against his or her will. (Section 37)
For Muslims, marriage of an underage girl can only occur with the consent of the Syariah Court. Under the Islamic Family Law (Federal Territories) Act 1984 (Act 303), Section 8 no marriage may be solemnised under this Act where either the man is under the age of 18 or the woman is under the age of 16 except where the Syariah Judge has granted his permission in writing in certain circumstances.
As mentioned earlier, while the Syariah stand is clear, this could be misconstrued and used by paedophiles. Arguing on the religious context is one thing, but it is apparent that child marriages deprive children of a future. They will be unlikely to go to school and learn lifeskills (refer to this UNFPA factsheet).
As the reproductive systems of these children are barely developed, it is likely that they face immense complications due to pregnancy resulting in complications such as obstetric fistula and even death.
Girls ages 10-14 are five times more likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth than women aged 20-24. Girls aged 15-19 are twice as likely to die. The vast majority of these deaths take place within marriage.
Many of the marriages are to men between 30 and 40 years old. They would have been sexually experienced and there is a chance of STDs other than HIV (HIV is screened at premarital stage) and these girls are more prone to gender-based violence. Women who marry younger are more likely to be beaten or threatened, and more likely to believe that a husband is justified in beating his wife.
Child marriages in Malaysia and anywhere else in the world rightfully spark anger and indignation on moral grounds. However, there is a great need to understand why they also affect the health and psychological make-up of a country.
n the sting operation, one doctor asks; if the baby does not die thru aborticides, what should be done, the other says, throw it in the river when it comes out. Yes, it is disgusting and heart wrenching to watch. This, one particular evil has led to disproportionate ratio of men and women to a point of sharing the wife with brothers and friends or selling one’s wife to the highest bidder.
The good news is that the prophecy of Krishna is relevant, in Bhagvad Gita IV-7 Krishna narrates to Arjuna: “Whenever Dharma, or the situation of law and order, is endangered on this world, I incarnate onto this world to re establish Dharma, law and order, and to protect good and destroy the evil elements of the society.” The movie actor Aamir Khan is indeed an incarnation of Krishna in mitigating the evil of female feticide, dowry, child abuse, and other evils of the Indian society.
In 1996, British adherents of Tabligh i Jamaat [TJ], the Muslim preaching movement that reflects the fundamentalist Deobandi ideology of the Afghan and Pakistan Taliban, purchased a large tract of land in an industrial area of West Ham, in the London Borough of Newham. The property was formerly a chemical factory, but TJ proposed to erect a “mega-mosque” there, serving tens of thousands of worshippers, with extensive visitors’ and conference centres, guest hostelries, a religious school, and parking space.
Little attention was paid to the “mega-mosque” project until Londoners, both Muslim and non-Muslim, were disturbed to learn that, if realized, the TJ complex would appear adjacent to the new Stadium built for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. The successful bid for London to host this year’s Olympic Games came in 2005, almost a decade after TJ obtained the parcel on which it intended to place the “mega-mosque.” The Stadium opened last month. The Games will commence on 27 July. Opposition to the “mega-mosque” has left its future unresolved.
Community representatives opposed to the “mega-mosque” have demanded enforcement of an agreement between TJ and Newham Council, announced in February 2011, and calling for TJ to submit a valid planning application for the construction within one year. Absent such documentation, TJ was supposed to remove its temporary structures and car-park paving.
The February 2012 deadline for a construction application passed without TJ’s compliance. Having defaulted on that promise, TJ is left with a makeshift “Islamic” presence close to the Olympic Stadium.
The organization held a public event in February at which it described its vision ambitiously, including a mosque eight stories high and apartment buildings of from four to seven stories each. Public-relations propaganda cannot, however, substitute for fulfillment of a solemn, legal commitment made to local authorities and disregarded.
The TJ project has been renamed several times, having been described originally in promotional literature as the “London Markaz” (“Center” in Arabic). But while London already has a Central Mosque in Regents Park, financed mainly by Saudi Arabia, the London “mega-mosque” was designated as a hub for TJ activities in Europe. It has also been called the “Masjid-e-Ilyas,” to honour, presumably, Ilyas Al-Kandhlawi (1885-1944), founder and first “ameer” or “commander” of TJ. More recently it was entitled the “Abbey Mills Mosque” after the industrial zone in which it was to be opened. It is now known as the “Riverine Centre,” an innocuous name, and is listed in online mosque directories as the “Riverine Centre/Masjid-E-Ilyas/Markaz.”
TJ leaders in the UK were delighted with the prospect that the “mega-mosque” would tower over the Olympic Stadium, and provide TJ with benign media attention during sports broadcasting. In 2007, Abdul Khaliq, TJ representative and “mega-mosque” director, stated, “We would like to think that the Olympic authority will use it as the Islamic quarter of the 2012 Games.” TJ was encouraged by Ken Livingstone, the radical Labour Mayor of London from 2000 to 2008, who endorsed the scheme, and denounced its critics as prejudiced against Muslims and purveyors of false information. (Livingstone, it should be noted, lost his bid to regain his old post in London’s recent mayoral vote, in which Conservative Boris Johnson was re-elected.)
Alan Craig, leader of the Christian Peoples’ Alliance and a former Newham Council member, has been an outspoken and activist opponent of the “mega-mosque;” his views on it and TJ, however, are hardly anti-Muslim. Rather, Craig has questioned the character and intentions of TJ in terms shared by the overwhelming number of Muslim adversaries of Deobandi radicalism. Craig has described TJ correctly as “fundamentalist, separatist, sexist, and anti-social,” and has warned that the “mega-mosque” would harm community relations and integration of Muslims in London.
Muslims against the “mega-mosque” once included a group called “Sunni Friends of Newham,” who warned that the TJ plan would discriminate against Muslims unaffiliated with the movement, alienate non-Muslims, and radicalize Muslim youth. The Muslim antagonists to the TJ campaign – knowing all too well the reality of Deobandi extremism in South Asia – collected 2,500 signatures on a petition against the “mega-mosque” but faded from the scene, apparently because of TJ pressure.
MegaMosqueNoThanks, an organization led by Craig, has most recently called attention to TJ’s failure to abide by its 2011 voluntary and binding undertaking made to Newham Council. To emphasize, TJ pledged to produce a valid planning application before February of this year. The movement did not carry out its agreed duties. Craig has said, “Not for the first time TJ has failed to keep an undertaking. The group has an history of breaking planning laws, flouting building regulations and breaching solemn agreements. Its track record is one of negligence and irresponsibility. We are urging Newham Council to move them off the site and to knock down the buildings.”
Craig and other non-Muslims challenging TJ and the “mega-mosque” should be supported by Muslims concerned about preventing alienation between non-Muslims and them. The continuing penetration of Deobandism is a problem everywhere South Asian Muslims are found. In Afghanistan and Pakistan the Deobandi-inspired Taliban wage open terrorism. India’s Muslim minority of 160 million is divided as the Deobandis have seized positions in community institutions. Bangladesh is the scene of annual TJ assemblies drawing millions of participants. TJ and other Deobandi agents claim to have taken over a majority of UK mosques.
In the U.S., the influence of Deobandism and of the Pakistani jihadist followers of Abu’l Ala Mawdudi (1903-79) predominates among South Asian Muslims, who account for a plurality of American Muslims. Marcia Hermansen of Loyola University in Chicago has written that followers of Barelvism –the majority trend among Muslims in the Indian subcontinent and the South Asian Sunni communities abroad — have given up organizing a body to represent their interests in America. Barelvis are traditionalists opposed to Deobandism, and who support instead Sufi spirituality and who proclaim loyalty to non-Muslim authorities. According to Hermansen, their “failure may have occurred as a result of factors specific to the Muslim subculture in the United States, for example, the fact that most community organizations were already controlled by anti-Sufi Islamists” — an assessment that is unfortunately accurate.
Alan Craig and others drew a necessary line against TJ and Deobandi penetration of European Islam in denouncing the “mega-mosque.” Their current demand is legally sound. The debris of the “mega-mosque” imposture should be cleared away from West Ham before the end of next month and the beginning of the Olympics. It is a blight on London, and on the standing of moderate, traditional, and conventional British Muslims.