Reading about the suggestion by the PAS Ulama Information Chief that minors be married off in order to tackle the issue of statutory rape just makes me laugh.
It reminds me of my uncles and aunties back in Penang who are still holding on to the old Indian belief that marriage is a cure to all the problems in the world.
I remember this one cousin of mine whose mother (my aunt) operated a nasi lemak stall in Jelutong back in those days. His dad was a regular factory worker who eventually became unemployed due to health issues. Basically, this family struggled to make ends meet, especially with five children. But things got a lot worse when the son (my cousin) started stealing money to feed his drug addiction.
Just like the PAS cleric, they thought marriage would give him a sense of purpose and so they married him off to a nice mamak girl. So loans were taken from fellow relatives, jewellery was pawned and the wedding took place in a semi-grand style. As they hoped, the marriage brought about changes in him – he stayed away from his drug addict buddies and became very attached to his wife.
A year down the road, they had a new addition to the family. Everyone was happy because this was yet another thing seen as a miracle cure for all their problems – making babies. And soon after, a couple more problem-solving babies popped out to join the brood.
Then one day, my aunt received a phone call from the police. Her son and his wife had been arrested for drug possession – yes, the wife had become an addict too. The real nightmare then began for the family. From court to Pusat Serenti to home and then back to drug addiction. Needless to say, the family fell apart.
And then there’s my grandaunt who decided to marry off my young aunt at the age of 17 as a means to thwart her daughter’s tendency to spend long hours with her twenty-year-old boyfriend. She tried reasoning at first, then grounding her daughter but nothing seemed to work, so she decided to get them both married to avoid any future ‘problems.’
Almost ten years have passed, and today my young aunt is in her late thirties with no solid education. She works in a canteen and her old aged mother cares for two grandchildren.
There are a lot of similar stories I could share but they all point towards the same conclusion – marriage is not a problem-solving tool. In fact, most of the time marriage can bring about more problems. And the thing is, attempting to solve one problem by creating another is an act of idiocy, plain and simple.
Furthermore, I feel that Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali – the PAS Ulama Information Chief who made the suggestion, fails to understand that statutory rape takes place simply because two people are very keen on having a sexual relationship, NOT to be bonded to each other for life. Marriage isn’t and shouldn’t be turned into a channel to legalise sex.
Even when two people love each other, marriage isn’t always the answer – well, not until they are matured enough to know what it takes to make a marriage work and are prepared to put in the effort. When a teen who hasn’t explored his or her own potential ties the knot, how is he or she supposed to play their roles as a married individual?
Perhaps if a solution to teen sex and teen pregnancy is what Mohd Khairuddin is aiming for, he should consider promoting a chastity belt. Not underaged marriage.