My daughter is 8 years old. She likes to make pretend fairy houses with tiny little signs that have small fairy tales written on them. Every other week her dream to be ‘someone’ changes – sometimes she wants to be a chef, other times a paleontologist when she grows up. ‘When she grows up’ is a phrase that holds the promise of tomorrow for her.
Now imagine this beautiful little girl getting married and her dreams and plans to grow up being abruptly interrupted… legally.
The Council of Islamic Ideology in Pakistan is recommending to abolish the minimum age of ‘children’ for marriage as they deem it Un-Islamic. To allay the shrieks of human rights activists, they elaborate that the married couple may only live together once reaching puberty. For females ‘puberty’ is defined as the time when they have their first period. They are hailed into the unfortunate realm of womanhood just because their uterus has started pumping blood once a month, a sign that may indicate that they are ready to reproduce.
I had a friend who got her period at 9 years of age. It was shocking at first for us to know about it but that did not change her from a child to a woman. We still played with dolls and dirt and we still talked about what we would like to be when we grew up. More and more girls are reaching such ‘technical’ puberty at such young ages. Whether it is due to our natural evolution, our changing consumption patterns or being surrounded by greater emotional turmoil at large, it does not redefine childhood on an emotional and mental level.
Our country is already infested with laws that discriminate against women and make them more vulnerable to abuse and violence. To think that there is a recommendation to make a law that permits abuse for children is even more shameful.
In the name of religion, we kill. In the name of religion we hate. In the name of religion the men legally practice polygamy. Now in the name of religion, we are ready to steal our children’s childhood. In the name of the same religion, I ask us to stop, think and puke before allowing any such change in law in the Democratic Islamic Republic of Pakistan.