Her only words were “I am afraid of this man.”
Child marriage is a horrifying issue that affects million of children across the world. More often than not, the victims are young girls who are forcibly married to older men in a vicious cycle that keeps them out of school and stops them from pursuing their dreams as they become teen moms many times over. This is a crime that truly affects the most voiceless in our society, and the reasons people find for upholding or supporting the antiquated practice grow more disturbing as time goes on.
Though child marriage still happens in the United States today, it is far more common in other countries across Africa and Asia. Here, lower levels of education, poorer standards of living, dangerous gender norms, and the strong influence of religion often permit the practice to continue unnoticed or undisputed, regardless of its legal status.
A recent case between a middle-aged Muslim cleric and a six-year-old girl is making headlines this week, and the only thing more disgusting than the marriage itself is the excuse he gave for legitimizing it.
How could anybody think this is okay?
The Man Acted Like Nothing Was Wrong
This week, Afghan cleric Mohammad Karim was arrested on charges of kidnapping and marriage to a minor after marrying a six-year-old girl earlier this summer during the celebration of Ramadan.
Karim, who is believed to be around 60, is just the latest in a seemingly endless line of older men who prolong the horrible practice of child marriage, regardless of the fact that it is illegal in much of the world.
Practiced since antiquity as a means to produce heirs or secure alliances between families, child marriage today is obsolete and exceptionally dangerous for the children involved. More often than not, these children are girls, and the marriage is merely a facade to legitimize human trafficking and pedophilia. Sadly, the practice is still supported in many places for a variety of reasons, most of which are cultural or religious.
The case of Mohammad Karim is not yet fully clear. Though he claims he marriage to the girl was approved by her parents, they tell a different story. According to them, their daughter was kidnapped several months ago, and now they are ecstatic to have her coming home safely.
Karim, on the other hand, said that she was given to him as “a religious offering.” Disgusting as it may sound, Karim said in a video that the parents were okay with the marriage, saying he could “take her wherever [he wanted].” Karim claims they were married before a crowd of 30—40 people during Ramadan.
Thankfully, doctors confirmed Karim’s claim that he didn’t have intercourse with the child.