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From my study of Islam I have learned a few things about child marriages/arrange marriages. In Islam children are able to be married when they reach puberty. Age 9 for girls and 12 or 13 for boys. (I believe) Since the Middle Eastern countries can not put bans on Islamic Law (Shari’a) they find ways to circumvent them. By putting age limits on marriage they can do this. The age for marriage will vary from country to country for example it is 16 in Afghanistan and Iran, but others can be different. In order for a country to validate a marriage they must get a marriage contract. A marriage contract is basically the same as here in the US which is just a legal document that proves to the state the validity of the marriage. Of course families can still marry away their children without the marriage contract and this is more prevalent in more tribal communities. What we need to understand about all this is that Islam was brought about in the 7th century. In the 7th century people married and had children younger because their life expectancy was much shorter than now. Islam is a religion that has not grown with the time. It is hard to reform certain aspects of Islamic law especially when it pertains to the family and things that have been embedded in culture for 14 centuries. Now when child marriages are arranged by the family it can be detrimental to the young girl because the majority of the time they are married off to men much older than they are. If they try to escape they can be brought back to the family and punished sometimes by lashes, whippings, possibly death. Lashing has been made illegal in Afghanistan, however, it is still practiced by more tribal communities. This is not to say it does not happen in the larger cities, but more often than not, it is in the countryside that we see these child marriages arranged. Certain countries are trying to make a change by passing legislation, but the legislation can only go as far as it is practiced.
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