National conference of female religious scholars issues three fatwas. Child marriage is against Islamic law. Marriage age for women should be raised from 16 to 18. Every year, 340,000 girls are married. Sexual violence should also be banned, even in marriage. In Indonesia, 16,217 cases were reported in 2016. Environmental destruction for economic development should also be illegal.
Jakarta (AsiaNews) – On its last day, the first national conference of female scholars (imams), held in Ciberon (West Java)on 25-27 April, issued three fatwas (religious edicts) against child marriage, sexual violence in and outside marriage, and the destruction of nature in the name of economic development. More than 700 imams, students and Islamic academics attended the gathering.
The first edict would compel Muslims to prevent child marriage, noting how this practice is not only harmful but also un-Islamic. Although not binding, the fatwa states that parents, communities, and the government have the responsibility of preventing child marriages.
The conference also calls for the age of marriage for women to be raised from 16 to 18. According to UNICEF, every year one Indonesian girl in six, or 340,000, marries before the age of 18. The country is ranked 37th in the world in terms of child marriage, second in Southeast Asia after Cambodia.
The second edict is revolutionary for Islamic culture. It states that sexual violence is haram even within a marriage. According to this fatwa, sexual violence is against the hifd un nafs (right to life), hifd al irdhu (right to freedom and respect) and hifd al nasl (right to procreation).
The edict also states that zina (adultery or sexual act outside of marriage) is different from rape, whose victims must not be punished. According to the National Commission on Violence Against Women, 16,217 cases of sexual assault were reported in Indonesia in 2016, up from 11,207 in 2015.
Lastly, the third fatwa is about environmental protection. It deems haram the destruction of nature for the sake of economic development since it can cause social and economic disparities.
To achieve this, the conference calls on the government to tighten its environmental protection rules and drop all laws and regulations that allow the use of natural resources in development.