Sex with any girl under the age of 18 is rape!

Published: January 18, 2016
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Just like a nine-year-old can’t decide to drive a car, a nine-year-old can’t give sexual consent. PHOTO: REUTERS

Cowards.

Cowards.

All of them.

Cowards.  

On Friday, Pakistan’s National Assembly tore down a pitch that whichever way you look at it, seemed like a no-brainer.

Introduced by the ruling government’s PML- N, the proposal sought to end child marriages through a bill called ‘Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Bill 2014’.

That’s great, right? Who doesn’t want to place a ban on parents forcing their children to tie the knot, when they aren’t old enough to tie their shoe laces? Who doesn’t want to place a ban on fathers selling off their young daughters to lecherous old men for profit? Who doesn’t want to protect minorities from an act used to forcibly convert them to another religion?

As journalist, Maryam Usman, of The Express Tribune reports,

“The proposed legislation had recommended harsher punishments for those entering conjugal contracts with minors.”

In other words, the legislation sought to deter men from raping children.

Who in their right minds could have a problem with that?

The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), of course!

“In May 2014, amid severe criticism from various quarters, the council had endorsed its earlier ruling that girls as young as nine-years-old were eligible to be married “if the signs of puberty are visible”.”

Nine… let that number sink in.

How old is a nine-year-old girl? Old enough to play with dolls? Old enough to dream? Old enough to think about conquering the world?

Is she old enough to get married? Is she old enough to have sexual relations with another human being?

Let’s get this straight.

Sex with a nine-year-old?

Rape.

Sex with a 10-year-old?

Rape.

Sex with an 11-year-old?

Rape.

Sex with a 12-year-old?

Rape.

Sex with any girl under the age of 18 is rape, even if they ‘give consent’, because they aren’t old enough to make an informed decision.

Just like a nine-year-old can’t decide to drive a car, a nine-year-old can’t give sexual consent.

If an adult allows a nine-year-old to drive, then it is the adult at fault, and not the child.

And here we have the nation’s main Islamic organisation claiming a nine-year-old is ready for marriage and hence sexual relations.

How did CII manipulate…err… convince The National Assembly into rejecting the bill? By using words such as ‘anti-Islamic’ and ‘blasphemous’, of course.

The CII is clever, let’s give them that. As Pakistans People’s Party’s (PPP) Hina Rabbani Khar recently confessed, ever since Salman Taseer was murdered for standing up for minorities victimised by the blasphemy law, lawmakers have felt a degree of fear. While the CII holds no official power over the parliament, it is aware that the word ‘blasphemy’ is a death sentence, and wields it like Voldemort did Avada Kedavra.

Following the CII’s ruling, the National Assembly came into line fairly swiftly:

“The National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony rejected the Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Bill 2014 after the CII dubbed it ‘anti-Islamic’ and ‘blasphemous’.

The committee meeting, which was presided over by its Chairman Hafiz Abdul Karim, unanimously rejected the bill on ‘purely religious grounds’. Afterwards, PML-N’s Marvi Memon also withdrew her proposal.”

Let’s also keep in mind that various scholars across the world have stated that ‘forced marriages’ are completely un-Islamic. So how is marrying off a nine-year-old child, who is clearly not able to make that decision on her own, not a forced union?

The last time I wrote a blog on CII’s antic, religious friends of mine claimed that there was nothing sexual about the ruling. Their argument was that CII was only seeking to introduce the law to protect young girls.

If this is so, then how many of CII’s defenders are willing to marry off their own daughters at the age of nine? How many members of parliament are going to set their little girls off with a husband as soon as ‘signs of puberty are visible’?

And what sort of a sick father looks for the ‘first signs of puberty’ on his daughter, anyway? I suppose the same sort of father who sits on a council and enforces such a ruling.

The Express Tribune reader Javaid has an interesting idea. I wonder if our parliament would entertain it:

Do you think the Council of Islamic Ideology should be banned?

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Noman Ansari

Noman Ansari

The author is the editor-in-chief of IGN Pakistan, and has been reviewing films and writing opinion pieces for The Express Tribune as well as Dawn for five years. He tweets as @Pugnate (twitter.com/Pugnate)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.