Stop sanctioning rape: Muslim dad starts online petition to ban child marriage

A young actress plays the role of Giorgia, 10, forced to marry Paolo, 47, during a happening organised by Amnesty International to denounce child marriage, in Rome October 27, 2016. ― AFP pic
A young actress plays the role of Giorgia, 10, forced to marry Paolo, 47, during a happening organised by Amnesty International to denounce child marriage, in Rome October 27, 2016. ― AFP pic

KUALA LUMPUR, July 13 — A Muslim father has started an online petition calling for the federal government to stop sanctioning the “rape of children” by banning child marriage.

Umran Kadir, a father of three residing in the United Kingdom, explained that he was infuriated by the government’s response to the recent marriage of an 11-year-old Thai girl to a 41-year-old Kelantanese man.

“It has outraged people of all creeds who possess a moral compass,” the petition said.

This, he added, prompted him to create the petition called “Stop the state-sanctioned rape of children in Malaysia” yesterday.

“We, being concerned individuals of different religions and ethnicities, insist that you do all in your power to consider on an urgent basis the changes to the laws in Malaysia that currently permit the state sanctioned rape of children.

“We demand that the government take the unequivocal position that no child below the age of 18 should be permitted to be married, regardless of their faith or gender.

“To permit otherwise is not to permit ‘child marriage’; instead, it is to permit the state sanctioned rape of children. This has no place in a civilised society and should be criminalised in Malaysia,” the petition read.

As at 2.20pm today, the petition has reached its initial target of 2,500 signatures and is now aiming for 5,000 signatures.

The petition pointed out while that there are some quarters who sought to justify child marriage by citing religious arguments, there are no strong religious justifications permitting such a crime.

“We condemn those who continue to justify the heinous practice by hiding behind the cloak of religion. To suggest that Islam encourages such an outrageous practice is wrong and demeaning. It is also contrary to the just and egalitarian spirit of Islam.”

It said there is a need to organise a concerted and non-partisan approach to end child marriage, seeing as existing laws may not be solely under the purview of the federal government but also involved state legislatures.

On top of working with state governments, Umran also called on the government to take urgent steps to outlaw the abhorrent practice and table this issue for discussion at the July 16 Parliamentary sitting so that a clear roadmap can be charted.

“You have been given a clear and unequivocal mandate by the people of Malaysia.

“We now demand that you have the courage to do what is necessary in order to protect some of the most vulnerable and voiceless members of Malaysian society. #protectourgirls #banchildmarriage”

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