‘Reducing marriage age of Muslim girls a retrograde step’

In an unprecedented protest programme at Mananchira here on Saturday, a group of Muslim women burned the All-India Sunni Jam-Iyyathul Ulema general secretary Kanthapuram A.P. Aboobacker Musalyar in effigy for his recent comments in support of reducing the legal marriage age for Muslim women.

No allegiance

The women who do not owe allegiance to any party or organisation said that they were forced to protest after the many regressive comments from Muslim organisations and clerics supporting the recent circular to legalise marriage of Muslim girls who had completed 16.

First time

This was perhaps the first time that a group of women from the community was protesting against their community leaders, they said.

Mr. Kanthapuram had on Friday said that girls should be married off by the time they are 16 to prevent them from going wayward. The Jamaat-e-Islami said that it was not right to fix the age for marriage in a democratic country like India.K. Alikutti Musaliar, general secretary of the EK Group, had said that girls who had reached physical maturity could be married off.A newspaper owing allegiance to the AP Sunni group had published all their comments on Saturday, which led to the protest. “The stand taken by these clerics and leaders is not just against Muslim society but against the whole of humanity. They are trying to see women as pieces of flesh and not as independent citizens. Marriage at such an age will curtail the mental growth of girls. It is also an age when they should be gaining better education and widening their horizon,” said V.P. Rajeena, one of the protesters.

Criticised

They criticised the United Democratic Front Government for acting according to the diktats of religious organisations.

Child marriage

“The circular was issued keeping in mind the interests of a few people in the community. This is nothing less than allowing child marriage and will only tarnish the image of the community as a whole. There should be strong opposition to such trends which will only help in taking the Muslim society many centuries backward. This community leaders should withdraw their comments and apologise to the people of Kerala,” said A. Seenath, another protester.

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