Raping Children under Pretext of Marriage

Saudi Arabia: A Hepatitis B infected 65-year-old man married an 11-year-old girl. Soon she’ll be infected.

Yemen: A 10-year-old was forced to marry a 30-year-old deliveryman. He took her out of school and beat her regularly. (Due to some smarts and luck, she later became a ten-year-old divorcee.) 

Saudi Arabia: A father married off his 13-year-old daughter to a man in his 50s because he wanted dowry money to buy a car.

Afghanistan: A 14-year old was married off to satisfy an obligation. Abused, used as a servant, and forced to sleep in an outbuilding with animals, she eventually (and famously) ended up on Time Magazine’s cover with a severed nose as punishment for fleeing her abuse. 

One Saudi social worker told Al Riyadh that she knows of three thousand cases where girls, 13-years-old and younger, were forced to marry men old enough to be their fathers or grandfathers.  Or as Eman Al Nafjan at change.org described it, “forcing children to be raped under the pretensions of marriage.” 

All of this is ironic as staunchly pious Muslim states somehow forget their religion: The Quran gives females the right to consent to marry. But forcing children to marry removes their say. Early Islam actually had a feminist air, and many Muslim feminists are working to return to that more woman-positive time.

Fortunately, a movement against child marriage is rising in Saudi Arabia. If you would like to read more, go to change.org, where you can also sign petition.

Hopefully, one day the right to consent to marry will not be just an empty promise.

Georgia Platts

Related Posts: Early Islam’s Feminist Air
Don’t Reject Your Culture, Even When It Mutilates You
Cultural Relativism: Must We Be Nazis to Criticize Them?

About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on December 8, 2010, in feminism, gender, sexism, violence against women, women and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Since they had consensual sex, but it happened only after the boy gave him assurance that he would marry her. Otherwise no girl is so stupid that she will have consensual sexual intercourse with such a man whom she doesnt believes at all and become pregnant and spoil her image and prestige in the socitey. She only consented to it only when the boy gave her assurance of marriage not before. Since we all are living in the modern world where sex before marriage is very common between men and woman, but there should be some law for protecting the rights of the woman if she becomes pregnant. And months have passed and she cant go for the abortion also. In such a case there must be law for protecting her rights and dignity. I do agree its the fault of a girl that she is having such relationship before marriage but if she becomes pregnant and the boy continues to assure her that he would marry her and she dosnt opt for the abortion, in such a case she must be protected somewhere. Atleast there should be law for the punishment for such a man who cheated her, also there is breach of trust on his part, also who did fraud to fulfill his physical needs and desires and spoiled the girls life totally and living freely as if he had done nothing and for the girl that she had commited a very henious, cruel crime. And finding difficult to live or survive in a society where no one will marry her.

    • Thanks for your comment. You make some intresting points.

      Based on your name, email address, and comment I’m guessing you’re from India. (You can let me know if I’m wrong.) A little different culture from the U.S. So I have a question about this part of what you said regarding a pregnancy: “its the fault of a girl that she is having such relationship.”

      Just wondering why it would be more the fault of the girl, rather than equal responsibility. I’m curious to understand this perspective. Let me know your thoughts if you get a chance.

  2. Just reading this just turns my stomach. How could a father do that to his little girl? Do they seriously not care for their child? And who these men think they are by beating this poor and defenseless girl? Other than that its good to know that there is something done to help these girls because this has literally gone too far and it needs to stop for good.

  3. Ngoc Huynh (Splitter EWRT 1B)

    This new pretext for raping young children might as well be a new trick to the rule book. It’s repugnant how the Muslim community endorses such reasoning when they have a strong religious belief to live peacefully and righteously. Alas, I don’t think this kind of act will ever cease to exist because our society (regardless of cultures) is still patriarchy. Feminists can protest and reform all they want, but their efforts won’t go far as their dreams. Either obliterate all the men on earth or drug the men into submission (hahaha just kidding).

    • Actually, there is hope.

      Violence against women is tied to patriarchy, but not all cultures are, or have been, patriarchal.

      There was almost no rape or battering among egalitarian American Indians before contact w/whites.

      In the U.S. as patriarchy has decreased, so has incest. Down 40% since early 1990s (Justice Department stats based on victimization surveys).

      More on all this later.

  4. Yuxing Zheng(R.Splitter EWRT 1B)

    A few days ago I read a piece of news saying that a 12-year-old Vietnamese was sold to a Chinese farmer as the farmer’s bride. This kind of thing happens everywhere every second. I commented yesterday saying there is still a long long road of pursuing more Women’s rights ahead us. Again, women are historically treated as “sex-object.”

    Not only in the case like the poor Pakistani girl Assiya, but also in more cases happened in Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan… We need more actions!

  5. Would that it were different, everywhere. Hopefully, the magic power of openness will shed enough light on the practice that Muslims will begin to see the inhumanity of it and how much it costs their citixens and society. I do not expect fast changes; but sometimes, some particular set of circumstances can bring about rapid changes. Let us pray.

  6. “Early Islam had a feminist air…”
    That would take a very broad view of the word feminist. Although Muhammad might have in fact advanced the cause of women in some ways, Muslims were still horribly brutal towards women. Essays that say otherwise are mere political rhetoric.

    • True. I didn’t say early Islam was feminist. I said it had a feminist air. It was quite progressive for the time, giving women many rights that women in the rest of the world could not yet enjoy.

      But that feminist air also gives Islamic feminists something to work with for the betterment of women in large parts of the world.

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