The article in the newspaper showed a 13 year old girl in full wedding dress. She was in a row of men, who were dancing and smiling. She wasn’t smiling. She looked terrified.
It was a story about arranged child marriages and it caught my eye on a friends feed on Facebook. His argument was ‘will we invade and bomb that country too, just because they do something we see as abhorrent?’ It made me think about our moral code here in the UK, about how things have changed over the years (even in the UK, in the past people were married and having children at 14). I was upset seeing this 13 year old girl. I didn’t think it was right, even though in that country it was acceptable.
Over the last couple of nights I watched Out There, a documentary presented by the National Treasure that is Stephen Fry. Over the past two years he had travelled around the world looking at how different cultures and countries regard gay people. It was not an easy thing to watch. From the film of five young men being hanged for being gay in Iran, to conversations with politicians in Uganda, Russia and Brazil (there were others, but these three stood out for me) it showed how far we have to go when it comes to the freedom to love who we love.
My thoughts went back to that photo.
The freedom to love who we love.
The man would say that I want to take away his freedom to love a 13 year old girl. But that is where the common ground ends, because it didn’t appear that this love was being reciprocated. Laws and traditions that impact minorities, and take away an individual’s freedom should be challenged. Again and again. I know my politics is left of centre, and that can obviously influence how I view what is right and wrong, but there are still things going on in the name of ‘tradition and culture’ that I do think should be challenged. Female circumcision, these arranged child marriages, and homophobia.
In the market squares of England people used to watch public hangings. Homosexuality used to be illegal (and not too long ago either). Humanity is a work in progress, and we have come a long way, but to sandbox some activities that take away human rights purely because they are seen as tradition, well, I can’t agree with that.