Child bride in Australia: The father of a 12-year-old girl has been sentenced to six years in jail for arranging the Islamic marriage of his young daughter.
The guilty father arranged for a 27-year-old Lebanese university student to marry and subsequently impregnate his 12-year-old daughter in an Islamic ceremony performed under sharia law in the Hunter region of Australia last January.
The child bride suffered an ectopic pregnancy – where the fertilised egg implants outside the uterus – and miscarried.
While sentencing the 63-year-old father Judge Deborah Sweeney said:
His role was to protect her, not put her into a relationship where she was at risk of pregnancy at the age of 12… That this man thought his actions were justified by his religious faith does not excuse what he did… A clear message must be sent to those who say that these matters are acceptable in the name of religious belief.
Earlier this year the 27-year-old man who married and impregnated the 12-year-old girl was sentenced to a maximum of 10 years and a minimum of seven-and-a-half years in jail for his role in the crime.
All parties must remain unidentified due to Australian law, which seeks to protect the identity of the minor.
The girl’s father said he arranged the illegal marriage of his daughter to the Lebanese immigrant because he wanted to stop her from “committing a life of sin.”
In court, the defense argued the defendant believed a Muslim girl could marry once she reached puberty. However, prosecutors pointed out the father and the groom were both warned by two different imams that marrying a 12-year-old girl was illegal under Australian law.The imam who ultimately performed the wedding ceremony, Iranian cleric Sheikh Muhammad Tasawar, pleaded guilty to solemnising the marriage and was fined $500.
Many conservative Muslims continue to defend the practice of child marriage because the prophet Mohammed married Aisha when she was only six or seven, and “consummated” the marriage when she was nine.
For many Muslims, to condemn child marriage is to condemn Mohammed; and for some Muslims, this is simply too much to ask.
(Portions of this post were previously published here.)