A little girl in Yemen, just eight years old, has died from internal injuries after her 40 year old husband engaged in sex with her on their wedding night. Her death was caused by internal hemorrhaging brought on by intercourse. The practice of an older man marrying a child bride is tied to deep religious and cultural traditions, specifically Islamic practices. In fact, a proposed law banning the practice of marriage for girls under the age of 17 was rejected due to its being deemed “un-Islamic.” Currently, one fourth of girls in Yemen are married before they reach the age of 15.
Some activists groups are calling for the arrest of the girl’s family as well as her husband, but with such deeply rooted beliefs, specifically belief in the Quran, it seems highly unlikely that the taking of child brides will end anytime soon. The specific verse in the Quran that allows for child marriage is often cited as the following:
O Prophet, when you [and the believers] divorce women, divorce them for their prescribed waiting-period and count the waiting period accurately . . . 4 And if you are in doubt about those of your women who have despaired of menstruation, (you should know that) their waiting period is three months, and the same applies to those who have not menstruated as yet. As for pregnant women, their period ends when they have delivered their burden.
The phrase “…and the same applies to those who have not menstruated yet,” is looked upon as the verse which encourages men to marry child brides. Although some religious leaders state that this is a misinterpretation of the Quran, it does not seem to deter the millions of men who delight in marrying children.
According to the website Islam QA, “It is permissible for a man to arrange a marriage for his young son even if he has not reached puberty; it is also permissible for him to arrange a marriage for his young daughter even if she had not reached the age of puberty.”
It’s not just Yemen that faces this problem. Worldwide, child brides number at 57 million, with a whopping 40% of those marriages taking place in India. The custom of marrying child brides is directly tied into women’s extreme oppression and forced submission. It should be no surprise that gang rapes in India have begun to spiral out of control. In places where women are viewed as lesser than and inferior to men, practices such as marrying little girls and raping and murdering women are commonplace.
It’s not just Islam that denigrates and subjugates women; nearly all religious traditions are male dominated. Men hold the reins of power so firmly because they are terrified of what will happen if they are not in control. Men in these situations are unable to control their animal instincts and instead act like a pack of dogs, fighting for alpha status and becoming violent to those they view as beneath them or those who could be a threat to the power position they hold.
Now, a little child, a girl just eight years of age has been killed by sex on her wedding night. She is not the first child to suffer such a fate and she will not be the last. Until people the world over give up their superstitious religious traditions, which in many cases encourage violence against women, there will be no change in the amount of deaths from rape, child marriage and murder of women and girls.
By: Rebecca Savastio