This is the official blog of the Nigeria-based Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), a human rights organization which promotes, protects and projects the rights of Muslims. This group condemns terrorism and all acts of violence. Its motto is 'Dialogue, Not Violence'
Friday, July 26, 2013
PRESS RELEASE: FACTS & FIGURES ON MARRIAGE TO MINORS
26th July, 2013
MARRIAGE TO MINORS: FACTS AND FIGURES
A tornado of criticisms has greeted Islam's approval of marriage to minors. Contemptuous cartoons, satirical essays, dirty language and insults have all been used recklessly in the past few days to assail Muslims and intimidate lawmakers.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) will not descend so low as to exchange dirty language. We have respect for all homo sapien and for all groups. We also hold firmly to our avowed motto, 'Dialogue, No Violence'. We will join none in heating up the polity because we know the value of peace in the society. Therefore we will not trade insults. Whether people abuse or not, it will not change the facts on ground. Superior argument based on facts will always remain superior, at least to intelligent minds. Nobody can intimidate us.
Even the president of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Ayo Oritsejafor, has reportedly threatened to mobilize Nigerians whom he would lead to the National Assembly to demonstrate against what he describes as Senate's acceptance of the law on marriage to minors. Senate President, David Mark, is already showing signs of submission to coercionas he reportedly accused Senator Ahmad Sani of blackmailing Senate to leave the controversial clause untouched.
Instead of jogging people's emotion, MURIC hereby presents facts and figures on legal marriage age around the world for Nigerians to see and judge.
In New Hampshire, United States, legal marriage age is 13 for girls and 14 for boys!In Michigan (US) it is 15 but girls can be married below 15 with parental consent. In Indiana (US) a girl can be married at 14 if she becomes pregnant. In Hawaii and Georgia (US) it is 15 with parental consent.
Now let us go outside America, in Britain it is 16, in fact it is 15 in most European countries. In Venezuela it is 14 with parental consent, 14 in Paraguay, 14 in Mexico, Bolivia 14. Coming to the African continent, the legal marriage age is 14 in Mozambique and 15 in Gabon. In Angola it is 15, Niger 15, Cameroon 15, Congo DR 15, Benin 15, Kenya 16 and Madagascar 14. In Equitorial Guinea it is 12!
So what is all the noise about? Tanzania adds a more pragmatic scenario: the legal marriage age is 14 but girls below 12 can marry for religious reason with the proviso that the marriage will not be consummated until the girl reaches 12.Gambia, Maldives, Saudi Arabia and Sudan place no age limit at all on marriage. Nigeria ranks among the most conservative in this area as marriage age is still 18 under the law.
MURIC is constrained to ask the following pertinent questions: how are these different from what Nigerian Muslims are saying? Why are some people stereotyping Muslims?Why is anything that has the Islamic tinge contemptuous to some? How can we truly integrate if you hold Muslims in contempt and you allow them to see the contempt? How do you expect Nigerian Muslims to have a sense of belonging? How can they be patriotic? Can this serve the interest of Nigeria as a nation?
MURIC refers Doubting Thomases who might assume that we concocted these facts, to the following websites: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marriageable_age, gulfnews.com, http://www.wunrn.com/news/2011/09_11/09_19/091911_minimum.htm, http://marriage.about.com/cs/teenmarriage/a/teenother.htm, etc.
MURIC advises Nigerians to be more liberal in thinking. Mindset approach will never work.We advise all and sundry to read and travel wide. Research is today a potent weapon. The world has become a global village courtesy of information technology. Nigerians should not allow themselves to be shut up in a shell. Ignorance will disappear from this country the day we decide to compare and contrast events in our land with what obtains in other places.
We advise the CAN president to eschew sensationalisation and concentrate more on building a united Nigeria. Threats are not expected from religious leaders. It falls short of being exemplary. Neither can we gain anything from public demonstrations over trivial issues when there are so many other matters begging for attention. Do we realize that Oritsejafor's call is capable of igniting an Egypt-like scenario if Muslims also mobilize their supporters? Should we precipitate another religious crisis? Perhaps CAN leader should begin to study and emulate the calmness and statesmanship of his counterparts.
MURIC rejects the position of Senate president as he hangs the blame on blackmail from Senator Ahmad Sani. David Mark's claim is an afterthought, laughable, infantile and unacceptable. How can a single senator blackmail the whole Senate? Does it mean the Senate President is incompetent? We remind David Mark that the buck stops at his table. He is expected to have built a pressure-resisting system in his anatomy. He should simply resign if he is tired.
Finally, we urge Muslims all over the country to ignore provocations and remain peaceful and law abiding. We remind Senate that Religion is a sensitive issue. We therefore charge the Upper House to allow sleeping dogs to lie. In view of the prevailing situation in other countries where circumstances such as religion is allowed to determine the issue of legal age of marriage, Senate should leave this controversial clause status quo ante.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Director, Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), 0818-211-9714