This is a copy of a letter to the editor that I sent to minivannews.com (im not sure why it was published as 'anonymous'...perhaps the homo..*cough* i mean that foundation...well never mind. here it is.
I salute the UNICEF Representative Mansoor Ali for commenting about the reservations in the article 14 of the new child abuse law. This reservation is based solely on a corrupt interpretation of Islamic texts which, I believe, many of the fundamentalist ‘scholars’ (Adhaalath, Jamiyyatussalaf, Islamic Foundation etc) support. It is the same idea that Sheikh Abu Ameena Bilal Phillips expressed at “The Call” lectures; that a child who has reached puberty is ready to get married.
While I agree that children do not grow up all of the sudden on their 18th birthday, we should understand that laws cannot be made for individual cases, it would be general. Since we have made 18 years the age of consent, any form of sex between an adult and a minor (below 18) should be considered as sexual abuse. The special reservation is approval of child abuse, decriminalising a crime just because it is committed in the name of Islam. It is a shame to our nation and to all Muslims that disapprove of such evils.
I believe child marriage should be a more serious crime than child abuse outside of such a ‘marriage’, since the child will be under a lot of pressure as their community and parents support the abuse. The child may even have to give birth, do household work inappropriate for their age, or take care of a family at such young ages. They would be continuously abused by their ‘husbands’. The beliefs of most extremists give no excuse for women (or girls) to deny it when their husbands ‘need’ them. So the law should consider this to be continuous and systematic statutory rape of an innocent child!
I’m surprised to see that the concubine issue is so troubling to many people while child marriages in these extremist communities have been going on for a long time without anyone noticing it. Children as young as 13 have been given away in marriage to men as old as 50! But what sort of sentences do these people get? In one case it was just banishment under the ‘religious unity act’. The reason was that the extremists have produced all the documents proving the ‘marriage’ was carried out as Islamic Shariah requires (the child having reached puberty too). They just did it at home, with their gang members as hakim and witnesses instead of going to a court. So the Judges at court were obliged to consider this a valid marriage in accordance to Islamic Shariah. When he drafted the bill MP Mohamed Nasheed warned us about this issue, but I was hopeful that it would be solved by the time it become a law.
When Shariah overrides law, and this Shariah is the word of any bearded Sheikh; I don’t think this is a very democratic picture. We all need to uphold the law and respect it. But for this to happen, the laws should treat everyone equally, it should be clear and understood by all, it should not be too vague, it should not be overridden by anything (including the words of random Sheikhs). Since the constitution does not define ‘Islam’ or ‘Islamic’ Shariah, it is left for the gang of Mullahs who are in bed with the ruling government to define it as they wish.
Such unquestionable and absolute power held by one small group of people will never yield any good results. It is a door to corruption and absolutism. This is exactly why I support secularism, a state where religion cannot be used against people and for political gains. This is not the un-Islamic thing, but rather the only islamic thing to do. The Quran clearly forbids such worship of Sheikhs (9:31). it also tells that individuals are responsible for their OWN actions and that God gave us free will and intellect to test if we do the right thing. All the three estates of the state and the personal lives of individuals need not be policed by a bunch of Sheikhs who claims to be men of God. May Allah save us from his followers that have gone astray. Amen.
The full version of the law: [PDF]