To break free from the shack­les of back­ward­ness, com­mu­nity lead­ers should ques­tion the HC judg­ment that le­git­imises a 15-year-old girl’s mar­riage

Tehelka - - PROS&CONS -

HEN THE phe­nom­e­nally re­gres­sive Delhi High Court judg­ment was passed on 9 May stat­ing that a 15-year-old Mus­lim girl’s mar­riage was le­gal, the All In­dia Mus­lim Per­sonal Law Board ( AIMPLB) was the first to hail it. If it en­thuses the AIMPLB so much that a girl, who should ideally be go­ing to school and learn­ing life skills, is pushed into mat­ri­mony in order to har­ness her fer­til­ity at the first bi­o­log­i­cal op­por­tu­nity, then what busi­ness does it have to com­plain about Mus­lims be­ing back­ward?

Ar­guably, 15 years and 10 months is not too young, given that many girls are known to be­come sex­u­ally ac­tive by that age. But a closer look at the judg­ment re­veals that it does not set age as the bench­mark, but menar­che as the de­ter­min­ing fac­tor for when a Mus­lim girl can be legally mar­ried. Like a pet animal who we joy­ously send for mat­ing once she is in “heat”. Sounds deroga­tory? It is.

It is ex­actly what the high court judg­ment can lead to, which in the name of cul­tural rel­a­tivism pro­pounds that “Ac­cord­ing to Mo­hammedan law, a girl can marry with­out the con­sent of her par­ents once she at­tains the age of pu­berty and she has the right to re­side with her hus­band even if she is be­low the age of 18.”

Now con­sider its im­pli­ca­tions. It cre­ates the pos­si­bil­ity that in fu­ture, an­other court may de­cide to use Mo­hammedan law for is­su­ing de­hu­man­is­ing pun­ish­ments such as ston­ing for a Mus­lim woman charged with adul­tery or am­pu­tat­ing the arm of a Mus­lim youth charged with theft.

With the age of pu­berty be­ing con­sis­tently low­ered, this judg­ment may well pave the way for young girls to be mar-


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