The doomed gender?

RAPED, shamed and imprisoned! These were meted out to a 15-year-old girl from Indonesia and that unfortunate event has pushed the country into mockery for the gross "injustice" in the name of law and order.

The prosecutors who demanded the sentencing and the judge who read out the decision have been in the firing line of local and international activists who felt that the child who is a victim has been made the wrongdoer, with the mother accused as the collaborator.

The rapist, who happens to be the girl's brother, has been sentenced to some two years of jail and nothing more, for sex with a minor. The girl was carrying her brother's child and was in the second trimester and having come to a wall, mother and daughter did what they could to save themselves from shame. The quote "more sinned against than sinning", the line from Shakespeare's King Lear fits this scenario perfectly.

As the news percolated through the social media, chat groups and relevant NGOs started conversations that led to no plausible outcomes except ranting and raving for the unfairness cast upon the child.

Abortion is illegal in Indonesia, but is allowed in cases of rape, especially if the woman's life is at risk. However, the abortion must be performed within six weeks of becoming pregnant and be performed by professionals and this is where the girl and the mother were faulted. Education and awareness are obviously lacking or absent here.

What is more shocking being that the girl had been raped at least eight times since September last year and she didn't talk about it to anyone, not even to the mother? This is as reported, leaving the truth stashed away in the gully of ignorance and fear.

Closer to home, our child bride, the 11-year-old has become famed with coverage in international news and what astonishes me is that the mother is a collaborator and supports the marriage. Even if the conjugal bond is postponed, is it of any relief at all? That the "perpetrator" has six other children from two marriages and the oldest is older than his new bride. What an oddity!

While there is a general perception associating a certain religion to the prevalence of child marriages, we well know it goes across race, culture, religion and country.

To highlight another case, New York Times published the heart-breaking story of Sherry Johnson who was raped and pregnant at 10 and forced to marry at 11 to the 20-year-old rapist who is a member of her church.

Decades later, the child bride who is now an activist tells her story about what she was up against and that she had to marry the rapist with pressure from religious zealots.

While NGOs and campaigners are working tirelessly to address this concern, child brides are found in every region in the world, from the Middle East to Latin American, South Asia to Europe.

The numbers are staggering and it is said if there is no reduction in child marriages, the global number of women married as child brides will reach 1.2 billion by 2050. You may also want to know that one in five girls are said to be married before 18.

For the uninitiated, child marriage is any formal marriage or informal union where one or both parties are under 18. Having said that the victims are usually women, why so?

Naturally, child marriages are tangled in poverty and this ties back to lack of education and awareness on family planning. Poverty stricken families, mainly from the interior with many mouths to feed are happy to get rid of young girls to reduce the financial burden.

In yet other countries, men's lust for younger girls to satisfy their peculiar carnal desires can be blamed.

The harm is far reaching as child marriage violates and deprives the girls' rights to health, education and opportunity. More importantly it robs them of their childhood and traps them in a cycle of incurable poverty.

What enticed the little girl from Kelantan to marry the man old enough to be her father is not a mystery but a matter of lack of compassion for humanity and absence of political will to stop the rot. The child may not know enough but the mother who is supposed to be perceptive needs a lashing or two of some kind for being an accomplice. This is the not the first case and neither will it be the last.

Men and their lust; women, girls, babies and even animals are not spared. I was distressed and shocked to read the lewd act of the eight monsters who raped a pregnant goat to death and this, by the way, is only the expurgated version of the cruel incident.

Violence against women is perhaps the most shameful human violation and it is perhaps the most pervasive, remarked Kofi Annan and that it is still hogging headlines today should make us cower in shame!

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