Experts: Only state policy can exclude early marriage customs

Politics Materials 7 May 2010 20:11 (UTC +04:00)

Azerbaijan, Baku, May 7 / Trend, E.Ostapenko /

Early marriage, widespread in the Muslim world, is remnant of tribal traditions, and only a strong government policy can uproot this tendency, experts believe.

"Only in countries where tough power exists by all means, including politically incorrect means, can such customs be crushed, and have a chance to disappear," Russian Institute for Middle East Studies President Yevgeny Satanovsky told Trend.

Early marriage problem is widespread in many corners of the world in the 21st century, particularly in the Middle East, Southeast Asia. The sad consequences of such marriages are more frequently becoming public.

Marriage occurs early when children are under 18. Eighteen is seen as an acceptable standard according to the Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989. According to international standards, early marriages are considered a violation of human rights.

One of the recent tragic results of such a marriage took place in April in Yemen. A 13-year-old girl lived in a marriage with a 23-year-old man only four days before her genitals ruptured and she died of heavy bleeding. Such cases are thousands.

Measures to combat such customs can only be taken by the state if the government controls the situation, Satanovsky said. As an example, he cited Tunisia, practically the only country in the Arab world where women have genuine equality with men.

Officials are liberal in Tunisia where local traditions were crushed by the iron hand of tha law, he said.

Many traditions of family law in Tunisia toward women have been abolished and legally prohibited. Women are not forced to wear a yashmak, and even in 1960 abortion was legalized.

"Because the government is local and Islamic, then such a 'soft dictatorship' is perceived as normal, unlike the situation with the ban on wearing the Muslim headdress in Belgium and France. They are perceived as externally imposed colonialists, even those who express indignation, live in these countries refusing to follow their laws," Satanovsky said.

A long period of time is needed to change traditions, a European expert on the Muslim community in Europe, Shada Islam, told Trend from Brussels.

According to the expert, although in many Muslim countries the state does not encourage and actually bans early marriages, people do not implement the legislation.