Muslim girls' marriage age becomes political fodder (Kerala Newsletter)
It's been a free-for-all this week with every leading political party in Kerala declaring in one voice that the marriageable age of Muslim girls should not be reduced from the present 18 years.
The trigger was nine frontline Muslim organisations deciding at Kozhikode last week to approach the Supreme Court for reducing the marriageable age from 18 but didn't specify what it should be.
Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, as is his wont, brushed aside the issue, saying the law of the land would deal with this. Many were surprised that the CPI-M took a few days to react and when it did, it slammed the IUML, naming it as the villain in the decision to approach the Supreme Court.
Leader of Opposition V.S.Achuthanandan, known for his biting reactions, did not disappoint when he said that it would be best not to mention the "culture" of the IUML, which would prefer the marriageable age of Muslim girls to be 14 and not even 16.
Congress spokesperson M.M. Hassan, a Muslim, also took on the nine organisations. He condemned their decision to approach the Supreme Court, asking them to drop the idea because it did not augur well for the community as a whole when it was trying to come into the mainstream.
With every political party flaying the decision, the IUML, the second biggest ally of the Chandy government, directed all its top leaders to exercise the utmost caution because it realised that it would be hard to wriggle out from a tight position. Some IUML leaders washed their hands of the matter, saying theirs was a political outfit.
One reason for the total unity in attacking the decision of the Muslim organisation was the huge media attention last month when a 17-year-old Muslim girl from Kozhikode was married to a UAE national, who divorced her after 17 days.
The police also acted swiftly and arrested the office-bearers of the orphanage who took the lead to solemnise the marriage.
As for the nine Muslim organisations, they appear to have gone into a shell after the widespread protests.
Still, the last word on the issue is yet to be heard.
(Sanu George can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Posted on 28-09-2013)