Cease Muslim stereotyping in child marriage issue

Rafidah Hanim Mokhtar

Modified 14 Dec 2018, 5:51 am

LETTER | We refer to the article Yeoh: Keeping them in school till 17 can put a lid on child marriages.

We object to the repeated egregious attempts of media outlets to imply that underage marriage is somehow a problem pertaining solely to Muslims by their use of a cover photo of a Muslim girl playing with her toys. This is not the first time this has happened.

We would have to question the intentions of our media outlets about this recurring offence. In the current global atmosphere where Islam and Muslims seem to be “fair game” for racist attitudes, one would have to question why our local Malaysian media seem intent on pouring oil onto the fire.

As highlighted in Parliament recently, there are more child marriages which occur in the non-Muslim population of Malaysia even taking into account the proportion of the Muslim majority in this country.

The 2017 census showed 52.5 percent were from the non-Muslim community as opposed to 877 cases or 47.5 percent were from the Muslim community.

Child marriages are strongly correlated with poverty and the level of education. It happens in any society where there is an imbalance of wealth distribution and children as the weakest fragment amongst the society are normally the victims.

Wafiq supports measures to stop forced or early marriages that are potentially harmful to either very young brides or grooms (young adolescents), physically or socially.

We condemn cases where girls are forced to marry much older men where they are treated as objects or commodities as families try to escape poverty.

We urge media outlets to cease this malicious stereotyping of Muslims and to check their own biases in favour of more impartial and fair reporting to ensure we focus on the real problems instead of becoming distracted by unwarranted prejudices.

The writer is president, International Women's Alliance For Family and Quality Education (Wafiq).

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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