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“Child marriages” just a political game

Is Ali Rustam making sense? (pic courtesy of theSun)

Is Ali Rustam making sense? (pic courtesy of theSun)

THE recent announcement by Malacca Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam that Muslim children in the state will be allowed to marry just boggles the mind. According to Ali Rustam, who is also Malacca Islamic Religious Council chairperson, allowing child marriages will help curb teenage pregnancy and baby dumping, and prevent pregnant teenagers from being thrown out by their families. He also said it would prevent these teenagers from becoming prostitutes in order to earn a living.

Correct us if we’re wrong, but since when was allowing children to marry a solution to teenage pregnancy and prostitution? How exactly did Ali Rustam and the religious council reach this decision? What factors did they take into account?

Did they look at studies about what causes teenage pregnancies and what are the best ways to prevent them? What evidence do they have that allowing child marriages will decrease the number of children born out of wedlock or incidences of baby-dumping? Are there any successful precedents in the world or history of child marriages helping to curb teenage pregnancies?

Going backwards

It seems ludicrous to even have to list out the negative consequences of child marriages. Extensive studies and research have shown the deleterious effects of such marriages, especially for girls. Child marriages may results in girls being forced into sexual activity when they are not yet physically or emotionally mature, with long-term negative consequences.

Early marriage has also been shown to have a direct correlation to the level of education a girl child receives. A low level of education increases the child’s vulnerability to abuse, poor health and acute poverty. It is thus unsurprising to find that child brides are more likely to experience domestic violence and least likely to take action against such abuse.

Ivy Josiah (pic courtesy of Ivy Josiah)

United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) studies indicate that child marriages are often a reaction to extreme poverty in mostly rural areas. And yet, here we are in Malaysia, supposedly on its way to high income economy status, propagating child marriages as a solution to teenage pregnancies.

Allowing child marriages also clearly flies in the face of local and international best practices. “Child marriages amounts to paedophilia,” Women’s Aid Organisation executive director Ivy Josiah points out. “We should not condone child marriages.”

Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil and Puteri Umno chief Datuk Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin have also made strongly worded statements against child marriages.

The verdict, internationally and locally, is clear. Child marriages have serious consequences on children’s wellbeing and opportunities. It also goes against the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (Cedaw) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), both ratified by Malaysia. So why then, did Ali Rustam and the Malacca religious council make such a decision?

Abstinence-only sex education

Before we answer that, let’s consider the decision of another government that ignored extensive research into the causes and best prevention methods for teenage pregnancies.

George Bush (© World Economic Forum | Flickr)

Teenage pregnancies and STIs were on the rise after Bush's administration (© World Economic Forum | Flickr)

In 2003, President George W Bush‘s administration allocated a budget of US$135 million for abstinence-only sex education programs in schools. Such programs taught students to abstain from sex before marriage. They, however, generally they did not include information on the use of condoms or the prevention of sexually-transmitted infections (STIs).

This was despite numerous well-respected studies that indicated that comprehensive sex education was more successful at curbing teenage pregnancies and STIs. The studies also showed that teaching children about contraception and STIs did not increase the frequency of sex or decrease the initiation age for sex. In fact, some studies showed that comprehensive programs delayed the age of sexual initiation and decreased the frequency of sex compared to abstinence-only programs.

These studies, however, were completely ignored or conveniently sidestepped by the Bush administration. Sure enough, five years later, a Centre for Disease Control and Prevention report indicated that despite, or because of, Bush’s abstinence-only programs, teenage pregnancies and STIs in the US were once again on the rise.

Political games

So, why did Bush’s, and now Ali Rustam’s, administration ignore established research that clearly show their plans of action to be flawed? Here are some possible reasons:

Misplaced religious fervour

Sex outside wedlock is generally frowned upon both in Christianity and in Islam. Perhaps Bush was and Ali Rustam is trying to use their respective positions of power to influence public policy in a manner consistent with their own religious beliefs.

But whatever a leader’s beliefs, decisions which influence individual lives, especially the lives of children, require more than a political leader’s own interpretation of what their religious belief calls them to do. It requires a thorough consideration of what impact their decisions would have especially on those affected by them. This thorough consideration is clearly lacking in both the Bush and Ali Rustam case.

The question then is, do leaders like Bush and Ali Rustam believe that their respective faiths call on them to act in ways which defy fact-based research, expert evidence and social realities?

Illogical thinking


Bush and Ali Rustam both seem to be living in a fantasy world as far as their decisions on preventing teenage pregnancies are concerned. Just because students are told to abstain from sex doesn’t mean they will do so. Denying them information about contraception and STIs merely means teenagers will be unprepared and uninformed when they do initiate sex or find themselves in situations where they don’t know how to say “No”.

And as for allowing child marriages as a way to decrease teenage pregnancies, surely, having sanctioned sex within a marriage would result in more, not less, teenage pregnancies?

Calculated political move

More insidiously, Bush and Ali Rustam may just have been playing to a gallery whom they assume is populated with religious conservatives who will applaud their respective decisions.

Conservative Christians have become increasingly influential in US politics and played a part in keeping Bush in office for a second term. Similarly, Umno has a long history of trying to out-Islamise PAS and this may just be yet another attempt at boosting Umno’s Islamic credentials. In proposing child marriages, Ali Rustam may be trying to prove he is a champion of Islam, going even where PAS does not tread.

Protecting people

It is alarming that our leaders appear willing to place their own political interest over the well-being and development of the nation’s children. It’s time politicians like Ali Rustam realised that policy-making is not their personal political playground, but involves serious thought and consideration due to the consequences it brings to individual lives.

Slapping the term “Islamic” on a decision doesn’t mean that the policy need not subscribe to the realities on the ground or that it can ignore proven research and international best practices. After all, what religion, be it Islam, Christianity or any of the faiths practised in Malaysia, would allow its adherents to abuse their beliefs to formulate stupid, irrational or harmful policies?

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45 Responses to ““Child marriages” just a political game”

  1. farha says:

    OK, I’m not against teen marriage. But it’s just a stop-gap measure to technically prevent more babies born out of wedlock (Muslim couples who conceive out of wedlock but marry within a stipulated time can have the baby named after the father – if this is not done, there are syarie-related complications but that’s another story). In my opinion, teen marriage is not a solution to curb the rise of teen sex and conception out of wedlock.

    Who will provide for the teen couples (if the boy is less than 18 years old and with only an SPM qualification if any?) The parents? Do they have the material needs and the energy to raise another baby?

    Speaking of which, what kind of support can the parents and the Malacca government really give? Moral, emotional support, and loosening the legal loops for marriage is not enough to raise a baby.

    Ali Rustam says these teens will be ALLOWED to marry, not FORCED. So it’s a choice. It doesn’t mean the teen (pregnant or not) would want to marry, right?

    What will be done to ensure that divorce rates will not go up? Most of these teens are impressionable, they tend to lack wisdom and maturity in dealing with relationships and matters related to intimacy. Does the Malacca government have enough trained marriage counsellors or child psychologists to help in this department?

  2. dropout says:

    We have tried all sorts of solutions suggested before except SEX EDUCATION. None of them worked. Why don’t we formulate an extensive curricula on sex education? Why don’t these ministers open up their katak bawah tempurung mind that sex ed is not about learning sex positions? If they are so paranoid about it, they can scrutinize the syllabus created by the education ministry or change the name sex education to something else like family/relationship education or whatever.

    As for the syllabus I would suggest something like this:
    -human reproductive system: what happens in puberty. Emphasize on hormonal, emotional and social changes as I think this would relate more to teenagers rather than just biological facts.

    -sex: biological facts. What is it for. Why is it confined to religious and social norms. Emotional and social impacts. Common misconceptions about sex. STDs, contraceptives and their effectiveness.

    -family: marriage in society. Responsibility as spouse/parent.

    Maybe there could be more than the above. But as I said, sex education is not just about ‘it’. It could be expanded to educate teenagers about things they should know. Providing them good information gives them a sense of responsibility in their actions.

  3. dee says:

    “… So why then, did Ali Rustam and the Malacca religious council make such a decision?…”

    Following an ancient example perhaps?

  4. Vincent Ang says:

    Ali Rustam did not slap the term ‘Islamic’ on child marriages. As things stand Muslim girls are allowed to be married at 16 years of age. Ali Rustam is merely bringing into the open what the Koran allows, namely marriage upon attaining puberty for girls. I am no authority on the Koran but I am acquainted with a couple of religious teachers who says the Koran doers indeed allow a girl to be married upon attaining puberty. Let’s not condemn Ali Rustam for being a Muslim.

    However, there is I think a bigger picture which you have missed. Why would Ali Rustam want to aid child marriages. Ali Rustam, represents the thinking among Umno/PAS that the Malay/Muslim identity must be dominant in Malaysia. The best way to do this is to ensure that the Malays overwhelm the other races by sheer numbers thus forever keeping Malaysia in the hands of the Malays/Muslims. The broken families, incest and Mat Rempits are just collateral damage.

  5. Dr Syed Alwi says:

    Dear TNG,

    Teaching the young how to use and obtain contraceptives is NOT the solution to teenage pregnancies in Muslim Malaysia. Because that is like giving the green light to pre-marital sex when in Islam, pre-marital sex is absolutely taboo.

    Malaysia is a Muslim country and we cannot say yes to pre-marital sex. You just have to work harder and find a more Islamic solution to this problem. We cannot make what is Haram (in this case Zina) into Halal!

    True – I agree that child marriages is not the solution either. So I guess Malaysia will have to find other more “Islamically” acceptable solutions to this problem.

    • edfland says:

      Nobody is saying that anything that is against the religion should be done or encouraged. It’s just that if there is a problem like this then maybe a modified approach to teach about it so they see it is a difficult and dangerous situation and more socially acceptable in marriage. Taking an extreme approach to something that is natural would just confuse and not discussing it leaves the subject dangerously open to interpretation. Sex education is a valuable tool. But as with all tools the person wielding it should know how to use it appropriately.

      • Dr Syed Alwi says:

        Dear edfland,

        I have said many times before that I am NOT against sex education PROVIDED you do NOT teach the young how to obtain and use contraceptives. If what you teach is Biology plus Morals and Religious Values – then I have no problems with it. The trouble begins when you teach the the young how to use and obtain contraceptives – because that is tacit approval of pre-marital sex. And that is against Islamic teachings. So please read carefully what I have written!

        • chee says:

          Oh yes!
          I agree with the doctor.
          Condoms and contraceptives are the CAUSE OF ALL TEENAGE PREGNANCIES & PRE-MARITAL FORNICATING in Malaysia!!
          MALAYSIANS!! PLEASE DO NOT PRACTICE SAFE SEX!!!
          AND ABSOLUTELY NO FORNICATING WHATSOEVER!!!
          PLEEEEEASE!!!

          -chee

          • edfland says:

            Noo!! You can’t say don’t practice safe sex!! Aids, syphilis and gonorrhea are all extremely serious problems. Contraceptives (this includes condoms) prevent a large amount of pregnancies but more importantly they prevent the increased spread of diseases. People are the casue of teenage pregnancies and premarital sex. You can’t blame a gun for killing a person – you blame the person who pulled the trigger. I agree with abstinence but if people don’t know about contraceptives they endanger not only themselves but the entire community. The knowledge of contraceptives don’t encourage promiscuity – the way that the children are taught and they way their parents, teachers and the media deal with the issues can cause promiscuity.

        • BahGah says:

          I learned about condoms and other contraceptives in Form 1. Not from teachers but from friends. This more than 10 years back!

          Like it or not, kids are learning things by their own through friends or the internet! Is the government going to pass a law to hide all the condoms in pharmacies and convenience stores just so that the kids do not learn “where to obtain” contraceptives?

          What is needed is to break the taboo about sex and teach the kids responsibility and respect. And of course with their religious teachings, they’ll abstain, if they don’t, they deal with their own gods, just like any other sin they commit.

        • JayCKat says:

          And might I ask, how would a muslim go about solving this problem? You have agreed that child marriages are not the answer. What would be an Islamic solution if sex education and contraceptives are not an option.

          Shall we keep women at home, surrounded by their fathers and bothers. A set up similar in to the Saudi Arabia, a Muslim nation. If women could only leave their homes when escorted by their male relatives, it is unlike that they will have the opportunity to go meet boys, have sex and thus become pregnant. Would you advocate this system?

          Any suggestions?

        • edfland says:

          I have, you misunderstood what I wrote. I meant to say that sex education is a relative term. What would be taught is totally up to the people teaching it. So it would be stupid of people to assume it means teaching promiscuity and endanger the welfare of our children by ignoring the topic.

    • Hang Jebat says:

      Dear Dr Syed Alwi

      Since when did teaching the young how to use and obtain contraceptives = Giving the green light to pre-marital sex?

      This seems to be the common leap / error of judgment that many religious conservatives make, regardless of whether they are Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist etc.

      Why can’t we provide both religious/moral education AND sex education together? Abstinence is the best form of protection, IF one can remain abstinent.

      But NOT ALL teenagers are able to attain abstinence. Failing which, they must be provided a means to protect themselves against sexually-transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies.

      The definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again and to expect a different result each time. Moral/religious education has failed in Malaysia over the last 50 years to curb teenage pregnancies and the spread of STD including HIV/AIDS. In fact it has worsened the problem.

      Fact 1: Sex will happen with some teenagers regardless of how much religious/moral education they receive.

      Fact 2: The rate of teenage pregnancies and STD transmission in Thailand dropped significantly since the late 1990s with the onset of sex education including the knowledge and use of contraceptives particularly in rural areas, DESPITE the protests of conservative Thai Buddhists and Muslims.

      Fact 3: Many countries in south-Saharan Africa are facing serious and, in some cases, terminal social and economic decline due to the rampant spread of HIV/AIDs across the entire population (in many cases up to 1/3 of the population is infected) due to similarly conservative attitudes towards sex education and the use of contraceptives. That’s 1/3 of the population that cannot fully work and contribute to society and is now dependent of aid from the working part of the population. I don’t even want to mention the number of HIV/AIDS orphans whose parents have succumbed to HIV/AIDS and no longer have any means to support themselves. Surely you’re not telling us that this is what an all-compassionate God wants?

      Public health policy issues are simply too important to allow our personal religious convictions/beliefs cloud our judgment on matters of fact.

      Our children’s lives and health depend on having the right public policies in place.

  6. hazel says:

    Will there be any solution to this matter… it has been going on for years as far as I can think and recall…

    Of course sex education is important for all human beings per se because it is a knowledge one should have… as for child marriages, it is a bit too far.. although it is true in Islam by the age of 16, a girl can get married.. nonetheless, it also has certain criteria’s before one can enter [into marriage]…

    As a girl myself… I feel that we should not allow such things because girls need to learn how to be independent in life.. by allowing them to get married so early at a tender age ruins such opportunity and they are young with lots of room to mature in time… perhaps Ali Rustam can think of something better… I am sure he himself would not want his daughter to marry early as an example… I believe when politicians decide on making policies or anything [like that] … they should think of their family and at least do their best to put them in society’s shoes.

  7. Colin Wong says:

    @Alwi,

    How did the holy prophet deal with this problem when he was alive? No embellishment and please do not quote from third party sources. Purely from his own writing or from the Quran. I trust that this is a fair request.

    Thanks.

    • Dr Syed Alwi says:

      Dear Colin Wong,

      The Hudud……..plus moral and religious education that emphasises VALUES in sexual issues.

      • Dr Syed Alwi says:

        Dear Colin Wong,

        Whatever the proposed solution may be – it MUST be acceptable to Islam. Perhaps you might want to consider taking off the air – of Western shows that depict permissive values.

      • just me says:

        HUDUD is the solution…I agree with Dr Syed Alwi of course..

  8. pang says:

    Allowing child marriages in order to solve teenage pregnancy is like allowing corruption to solve abuse of power. Oh wait, too late.

  9. alamak says:

    Dr. Syed said:

    We cannot make what is Haram (in this case Zina) into Halal!

    No one is asking you to… but the reality is that unless people start acknowledging that “Sex is a reality of life, the reality of today’s youth,” preaching in their face or beating around the bush is not going to help resolve matters.

    And child marriages is 100% NOT the solution to this matter!

    • Dr Syed Alwi says:

      Dear alamak,

      True – child marriages is NOT the solution. Perhaps the Hudud is – along with TV programs that reflects Islamic values instead of permissive Western values.

      In any case – any proposed solution must be acceptable to Islam.

      • ben says:

        If they do not have food on their tables nor shelter over their heads and have to rely on welfare, who would have time to listen to your Islamic values?

        What we need right now is a pragmatic solution, accepting the current issue as it is and search for a way to make things better first, and then only there will have room for spirituality. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

        Again, the article speaks against the policy, not Islam.

        • Dr Syed Alwi says:

          Dear ben,

          If you want to teach Non-Muslim children how to use and obtain contraceptives – then thats your business. But don’t you dare teach Muslim children stuff like that. Islam has its own values, morals and methods.

      • Jason Mark says:

        Dear Dr Syed Alwi,

        I find your answer flippant for a person with your stature.

        If child marriages is not the solution and so is sex education. Could you please advise us on an Islamic solution to this problem ?

        Did TV programs and Hudud work in any other Islamic country ?

        Is the cause really Western permissive programs, as you suggest ?

        • Dr Syed Alwi says:

          Dear Jason Mark,

          Yes – some form Islamic punishment system does work i.e. in some parts of the Middle East. In any case – I am NOT against sex education but I AM against the teaching of how to use contraceptives and where to obtain them. To me – sex education is Biology plus Morals and Religious Values.

          • Jason Mark says:

            Dear Dr,

            In Saudi we have Deera Square or also known as Chop Chop Square, have they eliminated crime? Is it infallible ?

            In Afghanistan, the Taliban has also applied Islamic punishments. Again, have they eliminated crime? Is it open to abuse?

            Can you advise which parts of the Middle East where this system has worked?

            My gripe is that, while you are against the teaching of how to use contraceptives and where to obtain them, you are not offering any permissible Islamic solution to this social and almost exclusive Islamic problem(dumping babies) in Malaysia. These teens grew up in Islamic families, we’ve given them all the Islamic education they need. The only information that we black out completely is SEX, it’s a taboo. No Islamic family will educate it’s daughters properly on this subject, especially the rural ones.

            Don’t just use Islam as an obstacle in trying to solve this problem, provide a just alternative.

  10. alamak says:

    PS: neither is segregation of the sexes, arranged marriages, internet restriction etc. If any of these get approved, then you might as well cast us back into the dark ages, because that is just a hopeless solution.

  11. Backbencher says:

    IMHO, allowing child marriages is not totally Islamic when people involved don’t understand the consequences. On the one hand, I agree with TNG at the possible increase in teenage pregnancies due to this ‘allowance’.

    On the other hand, marriage in Islam means that a new family has been formed and the man of the house must take charge in providing the family [what it] needs. Will we expect an increase in teenage dropouts just so they can put food on the table? Will the Social Welfare Department be prepared to received a boom of applications for monthly allowances and low-cost housings?

    Children nowadays must be taught that it takes blood, sweat and tears to bring them up. Until they can accept that, then it’s a no-no for marriage and, of course, sex. Accidents MAKE people, full stop.

  12. Marko says:

    Corrupted to the core… no more hope!

  13. Dr Syed Alwi says:

    Dear TNG,

    Lest make this an election issue. I really wonder what solutions PAS and Umno will provide as contrasted to Non-Muslim political parties like the DAP.

    For most Muslims – ANY solution MUST be acceptable to Islam.

  14. farha says:

    Just another thought: how many teen pregnancies/abandoned babies can be “saved” through marriage? There have been highlights in the press recently about the rise of sex crimes (rape/molestation). T he same day in the same paper, it also highlighted the rise of teen pregnancy and abandoned babies. Could the two be connected?

    The report said sex crimes are usually committed by those closest to victims i.e blood kin (fathers/uncles/relatives whom the victim cannot marry). So perhaps the Malacca government should look into how they can handle this variable…?

  15. Dr Syed Alwi says:

    Dear TNG,

    I have a proposal ; punish those Muslims who are engaged in pre-marital sex. And exlude rape victims from this punishment. The punishment could include caning and / or jail sentences. Plus mandatory counselling.

    • BahGah says:

      Correct me if I’m wrong. But isn’t that why JAIS is for?

    • edfland says:

      A harsh punishment would do nothing but isolate and anger the offenders and the people who agree with them. They would already have enough of a social punishment in the form of isolation and stigmatization. Mandatory counselling is a good idea. Sex has to do with both – biological impulses and social issues. It is control, that is obviously lacking in the people who have premarital sex, that is required which can be achieved though good counselling. If the people in power show a loss of control by having violent and extreme punishments the children have nobody to look up to and the cycle begins again. We can save those who have had sex. Lets not loose them forever by violent treatment. Islam is a peaceful religion – it has the most wonderful teachings. They should especially be applied to those who have lost their way.

  16. nipaa1412 says:

    This is why the state should be separated from religion.

  17. Ida Bakar says:

    Child marriages as a cure for teenage pregnancies and baby dumping? Has it ever occured to Ali Rustam and Syed Alwi above that being married does not equate to contraception? What these youngsters need to know is how NOT to make babies when having sex. So marry them young, with no life experience or education or money; but to what end? So that they can produce more babies that they cannot afford to care, financially or emotionally. That the babies are produced within ‘marriage’ somehow makes it OK for the parents not to shoulder any reproductive responsibility?

    What is wrong with straight forward biology lessons that penetrative sexual intercourse between fertile males and females invariably results in pregnancy. Unprotected sexual intercourse with dubious partners runs the high risk of STDs. A little knowledge in anatomy, physiology and microbiology goes a long way; be it within marriage or without. Where is the harm and the ‘haram’ in that?

    The greatest disservice that we can do to our young people is to deny them the knowledge that can be useful for their sexual health. One can resort to sanctimonious sermonising ala Syed Alwi above but that is akin to shutting the puberty door after the hormonal horse has bolted.

    • Dr Syed Alwi says:

      Dear Ida Bakar,

      First of all – I have made it abundantly clear that I am against child marriages – just as much as I am against teaching teenagers how to use and obtain contraceptives. Both are NOT acceptable.

      Yes we can have sex education along the lines of Biological explanation and a lot of Moral plus Religious Values infused.

      As for the hormonal horse bolting out the door – well – maybe you cannot control your desires. But I think that many others can. I believe in a carrot and stick approach.

      I think that we should punish those Muslims who get involved in pre-marital sex. In Islam – there is the Hudud. Maybe we can introduce jail time plus caning plus mandatory counselling for these wayward teenagers.

      But certainly Islam rejects any kind of tacit approval of pre-marital sex.

      • Ida Bakar says:

        Dear Syed Alwi,

        Teaching teeangers about anatomy, physiology and microbiology IS NOT teaching them to go forth and have sexual intercourse. Whereas marrying children young so that they can have sexual intercourse is!

        In Malaysia, Islamic religious education starts young. We knew more about punishment for extramarital sex, the duties of a husband and wife, the reasons for sex – not to mention how cycles of the period a woman should have after divorce before she can re-marries and so on – before we knew the biology of conception. Despite religious classes, some of my male school friends, then aged 18 and 19, went on ‘expedition’ to a red light district of KL to learn about this this mysterious thing called sex. My female friends speculate endlessly about sexual intercourse that, in hindsight, their ignorance is rather funny! There were those who believed – ala the Victorian British – that sex is something for men to enjoy and women to endure because it is painful!

        Perhaps, what you want is for youngsters to be in ignorance about the biology of sex until they get married so that they can fumble in confusion on their first night. Or the young man confused that the virgin should bleed, hurt his wife on the first night. Or the young wife consenting to having sex because she has no idea what a syphillitic chancre looks like.

  18. Julia says:

    During the time of the prophet Muhammad, child marriages were permitted, but one has to understand the specific context of the times in which this was permitted. In pre-Islamic Saudi Arabia, it was common practice to kill baby girls by burying them in the desert. The prophet Muhammad devised the solution of “child marriage” as an alternative to the barbaric practice of female infanticide. Moreover, in 6th century Saudi Arabia, the life expectancy was shorter than it is today. Thus, a child wed at nine and impregnated at 12 might only live till 40 years old. Today, we are living into our 70s and our 80s. Thus, the practice of child marriage becomes irrelevant on two grounds– and frankly seems as barbaric as the earlier practice of burying baby girls in the desert. Let girls get a proper education and at least finish high school before they (or their relatives) decide that they should marry.

    • JayCKat says:

      Just a bit of biology, puberty in girls is triggered when the body has attained a certain mass and importantly a certain percentage of body fat. Thus girls in the past century used to attain menarche at the edge between 17-18. Now due to better food and health, girls in the developed world can attain menarche as early as 10.

      Thus your statement of a 6th century girl getting pregnant at 12 is wrong. Her health and body fat ratio would not have reach the point where menarche would have began.

  19. MLP says:

    Wrt “some middle eastern countries implementing hudud as a deterrent for premarital sex: I taught a course in a gas plant in Saudi, I was there for 3 weeks. Weekends were Thursdays and Fridays. I was requested to dismiss the class by noon on Wednesdays. My class consisted of young men, 3-5 years out of university, probably late 20s. Mostly unmarried.

    Wednesday morning, my students come in, decked out in their finest western garb (normal days, tshirt & jeans or refinery attire). The air is filled with Polo and Paco Raban. All the guys were in high spirits.

    Here’s why: Non muhrim men and women can’t meet each other in the real world. So, they use the net and meet each other via chat. Weekends, they make a beeline to Bahrain. This is meticulously organized. It helps if the boys have sisters, and vice versa. Brother & sister would get in a car, head over to Bahrain, where laws are more civilized, find their respective partners, then spend the weekend clubbing and partying in the hotels. I’m told they are very meticulous about birth control, since they could be killed should there be an unwanted pregnancy.

    I was relieved when I heard that young Saudi adults were normal.

    You can’t suppress sexual urges, period. The only solution is sex education and making birth control readily available.

    All other solutions are ineffective.

    [...]

  20. JayCKat says:

    By pushing teens to marry earlier, Mohd Ali Rustam has merely pushed the problem from pre-martial sex to broken families and battered spouses. Most teenagers are sadly [...] kids. They haven’t finished growing up yet, they are still changing and trying to determine who they are (yes, it is a cliche).

    Getting teenagers to marry will just invite divorce, a messy one as a small child would probably be in the mix. If sex education and contraceptives are considered a green light for sex, then a marriage certificate is an official license with paid duty stamps to have sex.

  21. edfland says:

    Dr Syed Alwi:
    A harsh punishment would do nothing but isolate and anger the offenders and the people who agree with them. They would already have enough of a social punishment in the form of isolation and stigmatization. Mandatory counselling is a good idea. Sex has to do with both – biological impulses and social issues. It is control, that is obviously lacking in the people who have premarital sex, that is required which can be achieved though good counselling. If the people in power show a loss of control by having violent and extreme punishments the children have nobody to look up to and the cycle begins again. We can save those who have had sex. Let’s not loose them forever by violent treatment. Islam is a peaceful religion – it has the most wonderful teachings. They should especially be applied to those who have lost their way.

  22. John Conner says:

    The bottom line, whether you like it or not, the final solution to this complete waste of time, is birth control. Period.

    Islam/Christianity/Judaism/Buddhism/Hinduism may provide the “ultimate” law for its followers, but at the end of the day, it’s nature and social dynamics that finally dictates outcomes. And if anyone is not able to see that, then its time to come out of the cave or from under the tempurung.

  23. Dr Syed Alwi says:

    Dear People,

    I believe in sex education from a Biological and Moral Values point of view. What I reject is teaching kids how to obtain and use contraceptives because that is tacit – implied – approval of pre-marital sex. In this matter I tend to agree with PAS & Nik Aziz. Go ahead and teach sex education from the standpoint of Biology and Religion but please do not implicitly say yes to pre-marital sex.


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