By Diana Hsieh
Muslim "child-marriage"--euphemism for pedophilia--is making headlines again, at least in Arabic media: Dr. Salih bin Fawzan, a prominent cleric and member of Saudi Arabia's highest religious council, just issued a fatwa asserting that there is no minimum age for marriage, and that girls can be married "even if they are in the cradle."Notably, Fawzan is not saying that sex with a girl is permissible when she reaches sexual maturity. Rather, as he says:
Appearing in Saudi papers on July 13, the fatwa complains that "Uninformed interference with Sharia rulings by the press and journalists is on the increase, posing dire consequences to society, including their interference with the question of marriage to small girls who have not reached maturity, and their demand that a minimum age be set for girls to marry."
Fawzan insists that nowhere does Sharia set an age limit for marrying girls: like countless Muslim scholars before him, he relies on Koran 65:4, which discusses marriage to females who have not yet begun menstruating (i.e., are prepubescent) and the fact that Muhammad, Islam's role model, married Aisha when she was 6-years-old, "consummating" the marriage--or, in modern parlance, raping her--when she was 9.
The ulema [Islam's interpreters] have agreed that it is permissible for fathers to marry off their small daughters, even if they are in the cradle. But it is not permissible for their husbands to have sex with them unless they are capable of being placed beneath and bearing the weight of the men. And their capability in this regard varies based on their nature and capacity. Aisha was 6 when she married the prophet, but he had sex with her when she was 9 [i.e., when she was deemed capable].Basically, a girl just need to be large enough to be under a man without being crushed, and then her husband, a.k.a. the man to whom she was sold into sexual slavery by her father, is entitled to do whatever he pleases with her.
If you can stomach to read about the real-life consequences of these policies for Saudi girls, go read the whole article.