It is of course a major issue of public discourse these days that the Catholic church has long systematically covered up child rape in the interests of the organisation’s public image. But to my knowledge, nobody has attempted to justify the rapes with reference to Catholic religious doctrine. The church’s attitude has roughly been “We think this is really nasty behaviour, but more importantly we don’t want any bad press”.
In Nigeria, it is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to marry. But senator Ahmad Sani Yerima, 49, is under investigation for taking a girl as his fourth wife when she was allegedly 13 years old. He is said to have paid a dowry of $100,000 for her. Sani is an Islamist who, as governor of Zamfara state, oversaw the introduction of Sharia law there in 1999.
Sani denies that the girl was only 13 but agrees that she was under 18. However, he is not concerned with secular Nigerian law on this issue, which may strike the reader as odd given that the man is a member of the National Assembly of the Republic of Nigeria. Said Sani to the BBC, “I don’t care about the issue of age since I have not violated any rule as far as Islam is concerned … History tells us that Prophet Muhammad did marry a young girl as well. Therefore I have not contravened any law. Even if she is 13, as it is being falsely peddled around.”