Malaysia is actively promoting child exploitation,
gender discrimination and sexual violence.
Of course, if we are really fine with this state of affairs,
we can earn a few more tourism dollars
by marketing ourselves as a legal paedophile haven.
Lolita anyone? - The Malaysian Insider
Kapil is an advertising strategist turned brand consultant based in KL, who likes nothing better than to figure out why people behave the way they do. Naturally this forces him to spend most of his time lounging in coffeeshops and bars. He can be reached at email@example.com
DEC 29 — The recent case of a 14-year-girl schoolgirl getting married with the full approval of a Syariah court has raised more than a few eyebrows. While a lot of commentators have focused on the religious side of the matter, there are deeper social issues at stake here too.
In 2009 according to the health ministry quoted by the NST, out of 479 children waiting to tie the knot, only two were boys. Also, 32 of them were below 10 years of age.
Clearly only young girls seem to be interested in getting married at eight or 14. So in our society, traditional gender divisions are alive and well. Boys have to study and get a job and cannot be put under the pressure of managing a household at such a young age, but it is perfectly fine for girls who are children themselves, to take up all these responsibilities.
We are told that these girls are making these decisions on their own and are perfectly happy with their choices. Where are they getting these ideas from? Mass media certainly doesn’t glorify or even generally depict this kind of behaviour.
Shah Rukh Khan hasn’t been spotted romancing a nine-year-old in the cinema recently, unless I missed something. We are hopefully not teaching this in our education system. So it is clearly a cultural custom among some families that seem to find nothing wrong in this practice. Some parents also clearly seem to be in a hurry to transfer the responsibility of a girl child onto another family for economic reasons.
If we look at this for a minute from the perspective of the would-be husbands of these child brides, the picture becomes even starker. What possible reason could there be from their perspective, apart from wanting to have sex with a child, that cannot wait for the girl to achieve majority? Whether he is in love with her, or he wants a union between their families, or wants to help the girl or her family out of poverty, all of these can be achieved without immediate marriage. If the intention is noble, sex can be withheld till the girl is of age. So from the prospective groom’s perspective, we are left with the inescapable conclusion of wanting to take advantage of legalised paedophilia.
Even from a religious perspective then, there should be no justification to grant sanction to such a union in this day and age when we are all aware of the range of negative consequences of such marriages on the child concerned.
That is why our muted response is so shocking. The excuse that discussing this would tread on religious sensitivities has a hollow ring to it. Do we really believe that it is fine for girls of 11 to be sexualised legitimately and being allowed to make long-lasting life-changing decisions at such a young age, just because a loophole exists in the law? Is our regard for women so low that we don’t care about the multitude of mental, physical and emotional traumas we are condemning them to when we look the other way?
As a society, is it enough to say that since it is allowed by a particular religious segment, it is for them to resolve? Or that this is not just a Malaysian problem, it happens in other parts of the world too? Is the definition of a developed state purely economic? Should we not also be developed in the sense of protecting our children? Is our notion of criminal behaviour really this shallow?
It could very easily be argued that under the guise of religious freedom, Malaysia is actively promoting child exploitation, gender discrimination and sexual violence.
Of course, if we are really fine with this state of affairs, we can earn a few more tourism dollars by marketing ourselves as a legal paedophile haven. Lolita, anyone?
surely certain 'leaders' who are philanderers, murderers, rapists & paedophiles
would be pleased with the "progress" Malaysia is making in this 'noble' endeavour
to make it the premier regional Paedophile cum Rapist Hub ....
"Others (especially Singapore) would be 'jealous' of us"!