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双语世界:八岁新娘 Child Brides

来源:天星 更新日期:2009-04-03 点击:

How can a child be signed away in marriage to man 50 years her senior, without her knowledge and against the wishes of her mother?

The plight of an 8-year-old girl in Saudi Arabia is attracting the attention of world media, including CNN, and local media such as the Arab News and the Saudi Gazette. A contract for her marriage has been drawn up by her father and his 58-year-old friend, against the wishes of her mother and without the 4th-grader's knowledge.

The father defends the action, citing a promise from the new husband that the marriage will not be consummated until the girl reaches the age of 18. The girl continues to live with her mother at this time.

The mother petitioned a local court to annul the marriage, but was denied on the technical ground that she is not the "legal guardian" of the child. Under Saudi law, which many local human and women's rights groups are trying to change, a female child or adult is always under the "legal guardianship" of a male relative. So although the mother has physical custody of the child, she cannot legally represent the child in court. And ironically, since the child is still a minor, she cannot petition the court herself until she reaches puberty!

In my opinion, it's time for the higher courts to step in and ban the practice of arranged child marriage altogether, immediately. Changes are in the works -- the country's Shoura Council (governing body) is currently considering legislation to set a minimum marriage age of 14 or 18, and perhaps banning marriages with significant age differences between husband and wife. Officials of the country's National Human Rights Association have insisted that Saudi Arabia must adhere to signed international human rights agreements which define a "child" as anyone under the age of 18. The government requires premarital health testing, and the mother's lawyer has expressed outrage that this marriage was not red-flagged at that point. But is the pace of bureaucracy too slow to help this particular child?

The promise of girls in marriage to older men was common in Jahiliyya (pre-Islamic) Arabia, and has tribal and cultural roots. Such ignorance has no place in Islam, and many Muslim scholars and judges have spoken out against such practices. Their legal reasoning is that:

* in Islamic law, in order for a marriage to be valid, the female must approve of the contract.

* a minor child is considered unable to understand and enter into any type of legal contract.

* a contract cannot be entered into on behalf of another person, unless that person understands and consents to it.

* a girl's silence on the issue cannot be taken as tacit approval, since the child is unable to understand the issue and is often not even told.

* such marriages often result in health problems, psychological trauma, and divorce.

There is reason for hope. The Saudi National Human Rights Association has successfully intervened on behalf of other girls. Public outrage, within Saudi Arabia and worldwide, is strong and growing. Government officials have already begun the process of setting new laws. The mother's lawyer has vowed to file an appeal next week. And hopefully, one young girl will avoid having her fate chosen for her by someone who obviously doesn't have her best interests in mind. 

不是自己意见,母亲又反对,一个才八岁的小女孩怎么就会嫁给比他年长半百的老头?

这场发生在沙特阿拉伯的这场悲惨的命运,正吸引着全球媒体的注意力,包括cnn,包括一些像阿拉伯新闻和和沙特报等在内的当地媒体。这场包办婚姻已由女孩父亲以及他一名58岁的朋友商定,尽管这个4年级的小女孩不知情,并且遭到了母亲的反对。当父亲辩解这件事情时,引用了“未来新郎”的一段承诺,不到女孩18岁是不会真正完婚的,女孩将在这段时期内继续生活在她母亲身边。

为了取消这场婚姻,女孩的母亲到当地法庭申诉,却遭到了法庭所谓不是女孩“法定监护人”法律原因驳回。在沙特拉伯的法律框架下,许多当地的和女权组织正在试图改变着这样的情况:女性儿童或者成人始终都是在所谓的“法定监护人”的一个男性亲属的“庇护”下。也就是说尽管母亲对孩子有着天然的监护权,但她却不能在法庭上不能成为法定的监护人。更具有讽刺意义的是,因为孩子还是为成年,母亲就不能自己到法院作情愿,直到孩子到了青春期才行!

在我看来,这正是到了高等法院立即完备的禁止包办童婚的时候了。一些改变正在计划当中,国家的协商会议(监管组织)目前正考虑通过立法来限定最小结婚年龄在14岁或者在18岁,以及或会禁止双方年龄太悬殊的婚姻。该国的国民组织坚持认为,沙特阿拉伯必须遵守所签署的其中界定的“儿童”的人年龄在18岁以下的国际协定。政府要规定婚前体检,那个8岁女孩母亲的律师曾愤慨地指出当事人的婚姻状况并没有因此受到任何关键的影响。官僚主义的进度对于拯救这个特定的女孩来说是不是太缓慢了呢?

这种把女孩子嫁给老头子的承诺在蒙昧时期的阿拉伯(前于伊斯兰教时期)是常见的,具有其部族和文化的根源。但是这些愚昧的事情其实在伊斯兰教中并没有任何出处,不少学者和法官都曾疾呼反对这样的惯例。他们的法律推理如下:

1、在伊斯兰法律中,为了使婚姻合法,女方必须是同意婚约;

2、未成年人被认为是不能理解和缔结任何合法契约的;

3、合同的订立不能代表另一个人,除非该人理解并同意该协议;

4、女孩对这件事情的沉默并不能理解为默认,因为未成年人是尚不能理解事情关键的,并且他们往往不许表达意见。

人们还是有理由期待抱有希望。沙特国民组织已经成功地代表一些其他的女孩的利益进行干预。正日益成为一股强音的公众愤怒呼声已经响彻沙特阿拉伯及全世界。政府官员已经开始相关立法进程,这位母亲的律师也发誓要提出在下周提出上诉。我们期待着,一个年轻的姑娘能避免让某些明显违背她心愿的人去选择她的命运。

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