When Shabudin Yahaya, a Malaysian MP of the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition, believed that there was “nothing wrong” with child marriages, one wondered if certain Muslims in the country were that desperate for sex. Mr. Shabudin, a Muslim himself, argued that girls as young as nine were “physically and spiritually” ready for marriage.
It’s more sickening considering that MP Shabudin Yahaya was actually a Shariah Court judge. The fact that a former Shariah Court judge has no problem with a Standard 3 (Primary 3) student to be married off to her rapist speaks volumes about how problematic Najib administration is. Perhaps this also explains why Malay-Muslims dominate the chart in incest, rape and pedophilia.
Astonishingly, while self-proclaimed most moderate Muslim-majority country in the world – Malaysia – moves towards Arabization and Talibanization; the supposedly conservative Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East are “moving away” from such barbarism. Yes, Jordan is the latest Muslim-majority country that has courageously fixed a huge problem since 1960.
Of course, we’re talking about Article 308, the controversial article of the Penal Code that allowed sexual assault perpetrators to escape punishment by marrying the victims in Jordan. In a historic vote on Tuesday, the Lower House of Parliament decided to abolish the Article 308. The announcement was met with cheers and applause by Jordanian women nationwide.
In October 2016, Jordan’s King Abdullah II ordered the establishment of a royal committee to reform the judiciary and review the entire penal code, which dates back to 1960. In February, the committee recommended abolishing the article, leading the Jordanian government to endorse the suggestion in April. But not every lawmaker was agreeable to the scrapping of the Article 308.
Apparently, several lawmakers proposed amending the article instead of abolishing it altogether – suggested that exceptions be included in incidents of consensual sex and sexual molestation of victims aged between 15 and 18 years old. There was also a proposal to make an exception for anyone who “seduces a virgin over 18 years of age with the promise of marriage and caused her to lose her virginity”.
However, activists disagreed and rubbished the recommendations for exceptions. Hundreds of civil society activists staged a sit-in outside the parliament building on Tuesday to call for “a complete abolition” – not amendments – of the provision. Several women activists representing 63 local organizations took to social media to organize a campaign lobbying the Lower House to abolish Article 308.
Despite the country’s pro-Western political orientation and cosmopolitan urban elites, many areas of Jordan remain socially conservative. To protect “family honour”, conservative Jordanians believe that having a rape victim in the family is shameful, never mind it wasn’t their fault in the first place, and that such “shame” can be expunged through marriage.
Noor (not her real name) was just 20 when she was raped by a 55-year-old man – her own boss. One day, she complained of a headache and was offered two pills. She lost consciousness and woke up to find herself naked and raped. She revealed – “I couldn’t tell my family what had happened. I cried and cried not knowing what to do. At that moment, I realized that my family will be devastated.”
It was only after Noor discovered she was pregnant, that she found the courage to report the rape – but then her attacker (her boss) offered to marry her under Article 308. She had no choice. She said – “With all the hatred I have in my heart, my family forced me to marry him so as to save the ‘family’s honour’.”
– Finance Twitter