Ongoing atrocities in India and the Middle East
Note: The growing theory of Pizzagate, regardless of whether it’s true or not, has highlighted the issue of rampant pedophilia and child sexual abuse as one that needs to be addressed. This article focuses on child sexual abuse in India and the Middle East.
Reports surfaced in the Jeddah city of Saudi Arabia of a video that showed an 85 year old man marrying a 15 year old girl. The video had sparked outrage in the Twitter community with many condemning the act and demanding that the man be punished. It was later clarified by the groom’s son that the man was 75 years old and his bride was 37, not 15.
In this instance, a child may not have been involved. However, child marriages are a common practice among Hindus and Muslims. Girls as young as 5 are forced to marry men considerably older than them.
India has the highest number of child marriages in the world. Estimates indicate that 47% of girls in India are married before their 18th birthday. In April, a video of a 5 year old girl wailing as she held the hand of her teenage groom went viral and sent shockwaves around the world. Mass wedding ceremonies are held each year where most the girls are between 12 to 18 years of age.
This has been a long standing tradition in India and despite the government’s efforts to monetarily incentivize parents by offering a certain cash reward for girls that are unmarried at 18, child marriages still occur because the problem is a deep rooted one that involves not only economic issues but social and cultural beliefs as well.
According to a report by Girls Not Brides, the reason for the high number of child brides is because “girls are seen as an economic burden and marriage transfers the responsibility to her new husband. Poverty and marriage expenses such as dowry may lead a family to marry off their daughter at a young age to reduce these costs.”
The Syrian crisis has seen the steady rise of child marriages among Syrian refugees. BBC reports, “Almost one third (32%) of refugee marriages in Jordan involve a girl under 18, according to the latest figures from Unicef. This refers to registered marriages, so the actual figure may be much higher. The rate of child marriage in Syria before the war was 13%.”
Michele Servadei, Deputy Jordan representative for Unicef said “The vast majority of these cases are child abuse, even if the parents are giving their permission.”
It has also been reported that men from the Gulf States who, while pretending to be donors, are shopping for child brides among the refugees. “They prey on refugee families, living in rented accommodation, who are struggling to get by,” according to BBC.
“These guys from the Gulf know there are families in need here,” said Amal, a refugee, and mother of four. “They offer money to the family and the first thing they ask is ‘do you have girls?’ They like the young ones, around 14 and 15.”
Rich men from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E have been travelling to Egypt “to purchase women and girls for temporary marriages, facilitated by parents and guardians.” According to AWD News, “Girls as young as 10 have been sold in this manner and later found in the streets of the men’s home countries with no way to return to their families and no one willing to take them in — except for traffickers. These children are throwaway kids, abused, used and discarded when the men are done with them.”
Saudi men were also exposed by Wikileaks of trafficking Mauritanian girls aged 5 to 12 for the purposes of marriage. The traffickers are able to obtain these girls by approaching “poor and ignorant Mauritanian families about marrying their daughters to wealthy Saudi men. Hefty bride prices amounting to 5-6 million ouguiya (approximately $20,000) and promises of better opportunities for the girls lure the families into accepting.”
Aminetou Mint El Moctar, President of the Association of Women Heads of Household launched a campaign against child trafficking in Mauritius. She said that most of the child brides become sex slaves and that pre-pubescent girls are highly prized by Saudi men but, once they reach puberty or become pregnant, they are of no further interest to their husbands.
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The problem is added by the Mauritanian government which doesn’t recognize trafficking as a problem. According to Wikileaks, when asked about the trafficking of children to Saudi Arabia, a government representative in the Ministry of Justice stated trafficking of Mauritanian women did not exist and trafficking to Saudi Arabia was not possible because there was a government law that required women to travel with a male family member.
Although child marriages expose the sorry plight of girls in the east, many young boys also face extreme sexual abuse. In the documentary “Dancing Boys of Afghanistan”, an ancient custom called “bacha bazi” (boy for play), was exposed in which rich men buy young pre-pubescent boys from poor families to keep as sex slaves. According to the Guardian, “The boys are dressed in women’s clothes and made to dance and sing at parties, before being carted away by the men for sex.” Owning boys was and in some parts still is a status symbol in many Muslim countries.
Many have pointed out the moral hypocrisy of this system. Shaista Gohir, writer for the Guardian said, “The moral hypocrisy is outrageous in a country where homosexuality is not only strictly forbidden but savagely punished, even between two consenting adults. However, men who sodomise young boys are not considered homosexuals or pedophiles.” When Islamic scholars are posed with a question of why pedophilia is allowed to exist in the guise of marriage, most argue that Islam allows for child marriages because according to religious texts, Prophet Mohammed himself took a six year old girl as his bride.
Many Middle eastern countries and India have seen strong economic and developmental progress, but socially they have stuck to old and inflexible ideologies that allow for children to be raped and abused and afford their women little to no rights.