Mohabat News, an Iranian Christian news service, quotes Mohamaad Ali Isfenani as announcing to the public and Parliament in a recent meeting:
“As some people may not comply with our current Islamic legal system, we must regard 9 as being the appropriate age for a girl to have reached puberty and qualified to get married. To do otherwise would be to contradict and challenge Islamic Sharia law.”
According to recently released statistics reported by Mohabat news, in the past few weeks over seventy-five female children under the age of 10 were forced to marry much older men in Iran.
The thought of a child so young being forced into such an unthinkable situation causes others worldwide to recoil in shock. Many of these young girls are forced to marry men who were born generations earlier and could be their grandfathers; men that are oftentimes between 45 and 50 years old - sometimes even older.
One can only imagine the psychological effects of such a permanent life-altering situation imposed upon a young girl. But the worst isn’t just facing a future barren of thinking or being able to make their own decisions, conditions that women in the Western world consider basic rights. Nor is the worst of this existence the fact that they are merely seen by their husbands as objects for sex and servitude. These facets of their daily lives seem utterly cruel and unbearable enough to cause most of us to feel the utmost sympathy and compassion for their plight…
No - the most atrocious part of these marriages is that these unfortunate girls born into the countries that adhere to these savage Sharia laws are dying because of them.
Recently an 8-year-old child bride in Afghanistan (who remains anonymous) was reported to have died on her wedding night from severe bleeding (please note that the linked story and the following content is extremely graphic). Her marriage was arranged between her family and their village’s Mullah. In return for their daughter the family received a generous amount of money. The night of their wedding the young girl’s husband, who could have been her grandfather, became frustrated at not being able to penetrate her sexually and proceeded to cut her in order to be able to have more success at the act of intercourse. She died that night on their marriage bed covered with her own blood from severe internal bleeding.
Her story is not an uncommon one.
A study by Anita Raj, PhD (a professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine) and Ulrike Boehmer, PhD (an associate professor in the Boston University School of Public Health) reveals the obvious connection between child brides and maternal as well as infant mortality rates. The study concluded that if a country reduced its numbers of child marriage by just 10%, that could give way to an estimated decrease of 70% in its maternal mortality rates. One can only imagine the impact that completely abolishing the practice of child marriage would have.
The Iranian Parliament is expected to vote soon regarding the proposal of lowering the age of child brides to below 10 years. The world can only hope that reason will prevail, though that seems unlikely in a country so overrun by religious zealotry.
What can we do? There are organizations fighting for women and young girls globally like the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW). We can educate ourselves. Sign petitions. We can donate. And we can spread the word to let others know that this is a global issue.