In an article posted on July 9th, the Post discusses on the front page the phenomenon of the marriage of underage girls in Niger but never refers to the act as child rape. The article refers only obliquely to Islamic traditions as the source of the crazy notions at the base of this problem, but there it is for any willing to read and understand.
I frequently take note of the Post’s use of page A1 and the front page of the Metro section to fawn over religion, but this is a step beyond. Here they are giving a pass on one of the most heinous aspects of Islam, the acceptance of the concept that a young girl is mere currency between adult men.
The article opens talking about a 14 year-old who has just lost a baby during childbirth. Married at 12, she is quoted saying she’s going to try again to have a child as soon as she gets home.
The article frames the issue as one caused by food shortages in Niger. As is common whenever the Post deals with religion, they bury the lede.
Only after opening with mentions of the girl married at 12, the food crisis in Niger, and a quote from a UNICEF representative does the article get down to the root of the problem:
In a landlocked nation that has one of the world’s fastest-growing populations, the hunger crisis is the latest twist in Niger’s efforts to combat early marriages, a battle pitting modern values against centuries-old traditions. Niger’s government has enacted legislation outlawing unions before age 15; in some cases, parents have been arrested and imprisoned. Government social workers and international aid agencies have initiated efforts in remote villages to encourage girls to remain in school.
Yet early marriages remain widely accepted by families across large swaths of the country, fueled largely by high rates of poverty and illiteracy, ancient tribal codes and conservative religious views that wield more influence than government decrees in rural communities.
Let’s be clear. This refers to Islam and giving the practice a pass is cultural relativism of the worst, lowest, and most vile order. But this is standard practice for the Post and for Islam.
Quoting a hospital director as saying that the increase in girls giving birth is a survival tactic against the food crisis just doesn’t make sense. Introducing more humans into a food crisis is the exact opposite of the correct answer to the problem. And it’s a particularly bad idea where the underage mother also is malnourished.
Later on the author gets down to the nitty gritty. Describing the parts of the world most heavily Muslim, guess where child rape (marriage) is most prevalent?
Child marriage is a global phenomenon, but it is more prevalent in Africa and southern Asia. In many poor communities, girls are viewed as commodities, used as currency or to settle debts. To protect them in dire economic times, girls are sometimes married into more affluent families. Notions of morality and family honor also drive early marriages — girls are often married off to ensure their virginity. In some cases, men “reserve” especially young girls to marry them later as a way to unite families and communities.
Girls as commodities. Whether married off by fathers while still too young to have had sex and thus still virginal or promised by uncles as a way to settle a debt at an age way too young to understand the consequences is a human rights violation, not a niggling factor popping up as a consequence of a food crisis.
To be fair, the government has tried to stem the crisis by setting the age of 15 as the earliest age at which a girl can be married off, which the Islamists ignore, just taking the marriage underground. But, as in so many countries and with so many issues, Islam bows to no man but to the crazed edicts of Mohammed, a man who saw fit to marry a 6 year old and consummate that relationship when she was 9, and the writings of those who knew him or read his writings.
These heinous acts will continue as long as Islam and other religions continue without sufficiently loud, persistent challenge. The Washington Post is, as a publicly held company, unfortunately a part of the problem, afraid to call child rape by its ugly, true name, leaving a false impression of the problem on those who choose not to take time to understand what is really happening.