Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The End of Innocence

The Jakarta Post reported recently that a 43 year old Muslim cleric has allegedly married a 12 year old girl and plans to marry two more girls, both aged 7 and 9 respectively. He already has a 26 year old wife. The cleric is purportedly a rich businessman who owns a Muslim boarding school in Central Java and made generous donation to the poor during the fasting month of Ramadhan.

The government-backed Indonesian Child Protection Commission is currently carrying out an investigation on the matter. According to Indonesian law, a woman must be at least 16 years old in order to consent to marriage. Marriage with a minor carries a maximum five year jail sentence.

Even if one considers the legality of this matter, one cannot ignore the morality of such actions. The cleric might be rich and charitable, but does it not disturb his own conscience in taking away the innocence and youth of the girls? 7, 9 and 12 year old girls are not meant for marriage, when their lives are just about to begin. We no longer live in an era where girls were forced to marry at a young age.

Whatever that has driven the cleric to such actions can only be justified by his own lust for virginal blood, not to mention pedophilia tendency. For, if he is supposedly rich and charitable, shouldn’t he be providing the girls with free education and shelter if he believes that he is doing this out of socio-economic concern? Or, does he think that he deserves to be rewarded for his generosity?

In the midst of Indonesia’s current campaign for anti-pornographic laws, induced by Muslim hardliners, I am more shocked and appalled by this. The Indonesian government should give more priority towards protecting the rights of children, especially girls. I should think that this is part of the teachings of Islam.

The innocence of children should be protected, not terminated.

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