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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2344

Response to “Bizarre Ruling by the ACJU – Nelum Vithanage”

By A.R.A. Ali & R. Cassim

Reference the above article on April 18, 2017 in “Asian Tribute”, we would like to respond to this unethical writing with disgraceful words by Nelum Vitahanage. As the author of this article you were mainly concerned of the age limit of marriage. Let us refer to the historical view on the age of marriage.

Marriage in small age was widely in existence as the cultural heritage of the ancient world. In many ancient societies marriage was acceptable once the bride and groom reached puberty. In most of these cultures the marriage would have been consummated at the onset of puberty. Comparatively, they were successful in their social lives due to a balanced state of minds.

We would like to bring some examples from the World history. Marriage of some prominent leaders recorded in history are given below:

Lord Gautama Buddha got married to Yasodara when she was 16 years. Mahathma Ghandi got married to Kasthooribhai when she was 13. Mahakavi Subramaniya Parathiyar got married to the 7 year old Sellammaal. Dr. P.R. Ambedkar got married to 9 year old Ramabhai.

For 2000 years in the Western world the practice of marriage has been according to their cultural heritage. The marriage and the family life were decided based on their family heritage, and though most of them were 12 to 14 years there was no age limit determined for marriage, but on reaching the puberty they were permitted for marriage. During the era of Augusts Caesar it was the similar practice in Rome, the family elders decided the age limit. The government did not interfere into this subject. Later it was legalized. In German and Italian cities the norm was 12 and in 1971 French Revolutionary Statutes called the Napoleonic Code said the age of consent at 11.

Magnus Hirschfield, the historian, researched on the age of marriage in more than 50 countries both in American and European countries and found in 15 countries age limit was 12, and in 7 countries age limit was 13, and in 5 countries age limit was 14, and in 4 countries age limit was 15, and in 5 countries age limit was 16.

Professor Richard Wortley and Professor Stephen Smallbone, both of whom state that prior to the 1900s girls married very young, “In Medieval and early modern European societies, the age of marriage remained low, with documented cases of brides as young as seven years, although marriages were typically not consummated until the girl reached puberty (Bullough 2004). Shakespeare’s Juliet was just 13, and there is no hint in the play that this was considered to be exceptional. The situation was similar on the other side of the Atlantic; Bullough reports the case in 1689 of a nine-year-old bride in Virginia.”

Richard A. Posner is chief judge of the U.S court of appeals, Seventh Circuit Chicago. Katherine B. Silbaugh is associate Professor at Boston University School of Law, they say that before the 1900s age of consent was ten years old, “The law governing the age of consent has changed dramatically in the United States during this century. Most states codified a statutory age of consent during the nineteenth century, and the usual age was ten years.”

Even in our country in 17 of 1907 the Marriage and Divorce Act in Article 15 points out that male’s age for marriage was 16 years and the woman’s age was 12 years.

Based on the evidences given above traditionally across the globe in the past the age of consent for marriage was a matter for the family elders to decide or following their predecessor’s custom. As given above the average age of consent until the mid of 19th century has remained low.

Even prominent leaders and intellectuals like Lord Buddha, Mahathma Ghandi, Mahakavi Parathiyar and Dr. Ambedkar married women of low age.

Can you call these dignified people as perverts or pedophiles or child-molesters? Definitely not. They lived an exemplary life to set as models for the mankind.

All your allegations mentioned in your article are addressed without the knowledge on the subject and without proper understanding of the submission, the ACJU has made to the Reformation committee.

Let us discuss briefly on the Islamic perspective. Muslims all over the world are guided by the teachings of Al Quran and Al Sunnah (Traditions of the Prophet), which has also not declared any age limit for marriage. Even though the permissibility is allowed, child marriage, in whatever circumstances, is not promoted in Islam. It is not prescribed to arrange a marriage for a young girl unless there is a clear and a genuine interest to be served for the girl by doing so.

Without this if a person forcefully adopts the practice of child marriage, it demonstrates his ignorance, immorality and his impiety.

Since Islam is a comprehensive religion which provides solutions for all circumstances and have kept dispensations on its rulings, and there is a great wisdom thereupon.

- Asian Tribune –

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