Muslim father starts petition calling for ban on child marriage

PETALING JAYA: A Muslim father has started a petition on online platform change.org calling on the federal and state governments to change laws that sanction the rape of children.

The petition, started by Umran Kadir, a father of three currently residing in the United Kingdom, who said he was troubled by the recent marriage of a 41-year-old man to an 11-year-old girl.

The petition “Stop the state sanctioned rape of children in Malaysia” which was uploaded on change.org on Thursday has since garnered 3,834 signatures as of 4.30pm on Friday.

Addressed to the Malaysian government, the petition states that the recent child marriage had outraged people of all creeds who possess a moral compass and urged the government to consider making amendments to certain laws which permit the state-sanctioned rape of children.

“We demand that the government take the unequivocal position that no child below the age of 18 should be permitted to be married, regardless of their faith or gender.

“To permit otherwise is not to permit 'child marriage'; instead, it is to permit the state sanctioned rape of children.

“This has no place in a civilised society and should be criminalised in Malaysia,” the petition reads.

The petition also argues that although there were those that sought to justify the state sanctioned rape of children by citing religious arguments, there were no strong religious justifications which permits such a crime considering that all mainstream religions, including Islam, have schools of thought that either discourage or prohibit this terrible practice.

“We condemn those who continue to justify the heinous practice by hiding behind the cloak of religion.

“To suggest that Islam encourages such an outrageous practice is wrong and demeaning because it is contrary to the just and egalitarian spirit of Islam,” it said.

Acknowledging that some of the existing laws which allow such a practice may not solely be within the purview of the federal government, the petition also urged for intervention from the state legislatures.

“We believe it is crucial that a concerted and non-partisan approach be taken at all levels of government (both federal and state) to resolving the present state of affairs which is totally unacceptable,” it said.

The petition also urged the government to discuss the issue in the upcoming Parliament session and to work with the respective state governments to ban child marriage.

“You have been given a clear and unequivocal mandate by the people of Malaysia. We now demand that you have the courage to do what is necessary in order to protect some of the most vulnerable and voiceless members of Malaysian society.”

The petition ends with the hashtags #protectourgirls #banchildmarriage.

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