Monday, 14 September 2009

Child Brides

Obviously, this is something I've known about and ranted about before (and often, respectively) but after logging on to the news this morning, I was confronted with not one, but two reports concerning the barbaric act.

The first was found in the Daily Mail (shut up, I read it for the laughs and rant opportunities) and told of the 12 year old girl who died trying to give birth to her still-born child, after three days of labour and horrendous blood loss. I had a look around, and found it confirmed by various other news reports.

Fawziya Abdullah Youssef - who was married at eleven, to a 24 year old Saudi Arabian man - died of severe blood loss in the al-Zahra district hospital of Hodeida province in Yemen, and her story is only being told because of a serendipitous discovery of her situation by Ahmed al-Quraishi, Chairman of the Siyaj human rights organization.

Fawziya is only one of many such cases in Yemen, the poorest of the Arab countries, where there is no law to protect such girls from what is essentially government sanctioned pedophilia. Due to a lack of education, strict tribal customs and a surplus of the very poor, girls like Youseff are often forced or even sold into marriage (her parents receiving hefty dowries.)

Yemen's Government actually attempted to raise the age of marriage to 17 earlier this year, but apparently it was deemed 'un-Islamic' and sent back for review. I don't hold much hope for that actually ever making it past the review stage.

The second story was found in Reason Weekly, and concerned yet another child bride, this time 10 years old and in Saudi Arabia.

The little girl, who is nothing more than a babe herself, has been forced, by her father, to return to her 80 year old husband, after spending ten days hiding at her aunt's house, following her marriage to the man.

Apparently, the man had previously been engaged to her older sister, but when her sister decided to end the engagement to continue her education, their father offered him the younger girl.

“I was allowed to have a look at her according to Shariah and found her acceptable”

Like a piece of meat, perhaps?

And people have the gall to tell us that Islam respects women? That it is a peace loving religion and all that other rot that gets said about it by fundamental and even moderate Muslims?

If that were so, we wouldn't constantly be hearing reports about child brides, suicide bombings, random acts of downright cruelty and terrorism. I find myself wondering why we, as a country, still deal with places like Saudi Arabia, when they allow things like this to happen.

Oh, but of course, it'll be all about Politics and oil. Our government can go blithely ahead, ignoring the truly shitty lives these women and girls are leading, the crap that countries like Saudi Arabia and Turkey get away with, because these are petty issues, beneath their notice.

It makes me sick to my stomach, whenever I hear of these reports.

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