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Editorial: Child brides

The news that with a 60-year old man, who is a prayer leader and abducted a six years old child from Herat province, made headlines in foreign media but failed to wake up the social and women’s rights activities. The local authorities also acted like a silent spectator. The cleric, Mohammad Karim, said that he married the school-age child with consent of her parents. However, the parents claimed that she was abducted by the mullah. The issue is very serious and needs attention of everyone, from religious scholars to rights activities and from media to the high-ranking government officials. Unfortunately, there is a creeping silence in the halls of power.

There is no denial that Karim has committed a serious crime. If he abducted the child then he also deserves exemplary punishment. However, arrest of the child bride’s father tells a different story. Earlier, it was reported that the parents of the six-year old girl had complained to police about missing of their daughter before the news of the cleric surfaced. If they did, yet, there are many questions which should be answered by the parents of the child. Why the parents have not responded quickly to the news? Why they were slow in reacting to the kidnapping of their child? If they lodged complaint about the missing child then why the Herat police are not breaking silence? It is a reality that poor people in the country face difficulty in getting justice. But, at least the Herat police can share details of the case with media.

Even if the parents had consent, the marriage is illegal from every perspective. The cleric should be treated according to the Sharia law for marrying a six years old girl. How can an adult man or woman marry a minor? Neither the Constitution nor the Sharia law gives permission to a grown person to marry a child. Who know this better than the religious scholars? But, here a prayer leader who was trusted most had crossed the red line.

In this whole fiasco, the only victim is the child who cannot speak for herself and suffered unbearable mental torture and injustice. Society is the first institute which should provide justice. Sadly, our society remains silent in such cases. It accommodates the anti-social elements by providing space and impunity to the troublemakers. Our media has also failed in breaking and following up such cases. There will be many child brides but we don’t know about their miserable life.

Similarly, the religious scholars are not playing their role to discourage social evils. They have the pulpit and strong voice in the society but they do not criticize their peers as they see dishonor in it. On one hand they preach about fighting the evil forces and defending the truth but on the other hand they do not break words in such cases. They shall fulfill their religious obligations in order to make the society a better place to live in.

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