WebClick Tracer

SHE TALKS PEACE: 2022 Resolutions: Empower our Youth; Protect our Children

mindaview she talks peace thumbnail

QUEZON CITY (MindaNews / 16 January) — Dina Zaman (co-founder of Malaysian think-tank IMAN) and I compared youth activism in our podcast for today.   This month, Malaysia’s government finally to implement a constitutional amendment that brought down the voting age to 18. Passed by parliament in 2019,  some five million youth are poised to change the Malaysian political landscape with their voters. Dina is quite excited by this development, which promises to shake the system.  

A youth party, the “Malaysian United Democratic Alliance” or MUDA, has been registered. “Muda” means youth.  Its leaders have been at the forefront of the lobby to implement the change in voting age.  Dina ponders that the undemocratic positions of the old guard will change.  Could this push Malaysian politics from right to left?  

We will closely monitor events, as in the Philippines, the youth have come out to register for the May elections.  The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has stated that close to five million have registered for the first time.  Comelec Director James Jimenez has noted that young voters may make a difference in next year’s national elections as they now comprise 52% of the total registered voters.  

Five million young Malaysians  and five million young Filipinos – all new voters –  can shake up their country’s politics.  The political space has opened up.  Dina and I wonder how this new space will change the landscape.  As it is, all the politicians running for national office have been scrambling to capture the youth vote.  

A survey on youth participation, jointly conducted by the Ateneo School of Government (ASOG), Boses, Opinyon, Siyasat, at Siyensya para sa Pilipinas (BOSES Pilipinas), and Participate PH, was released last November.  One key finding: youth who are highly inclined to vote in the May 2022 elections have high accuracy in identifying real news.  Interestingly, the survey also showed that President Duterte supporters are more likely to believe in fake news and respondents who support Vice President Robredo are more likely to identify which news is real or fake.  Hmmm.  This could have a tremendous impact on the presidential elections, with five million new voters.  

Thus far, many young voters have been swayed by Bongbong Marcos’ youthful good looks and charm.  They believe that the sins of his father should not be visited on him.  Pro-Robredo young voters see in her a model a non-traditional leader, “keeping it real” as one told me.  

Abangan! Come join our conversation on “She Talks Peace” today!

Please Click, Play and Listen on Spotify: 

Apple Podcasts:



Meanwhile, I seem to have started a kerfuffle in my last Facebook posting when I commented on opposition to Republic Act No. 11596, also known as An Act Prohibiting the Practice of Child Marriage and Imposing Penalties.  This was signed into law by President Duterte on January 6. Some Muslim leaders have appealed to defer or even stop the implementation of the law,  citing that the practice is an integral part of their culture.  I disagreed with their positions and posted:

“Slavery was very much a part of our culture but it was abolished decades ago because it is not only a violation of human rights, even then, but also because Islam liberated slaves. The power of the Sultan over our communities, the sovereignty of our sultanates was very much a part of our culture. That is no longer true. Female infanticide was very much part of the culture in the Arab world but Islam criminalized it. Cultural practices must adapt to changing circumstances, particularly when such practices are deleterious to the human condition. 

“Do these leaders who support child marriage marshal religious justifications? If they do, then I must respectfully suggest that they do their research well as many global Islamic scholars have written about this. I must also remind that hundreds – thousands – of years ago, our average life span was probably half of what we enjoy today, as researchers have been finding out. Life was hard. Death during childbirth was most likely not uncommon. Thus, a girl entering puberty was deemed marriageable, to ensure the survival of the community. That is no longer true. Today, a child can – and should – remain a child. 

“Islamic law is not static. Islam allowed the interpretation of Shariah not just on the Quran but also based on the Hadith and on the specific circumstance of the Muslim community. Thus, Shariah interpretation – even then – differed from country to country. Ijtihad, independent reasoning, was widely utilized to arrive at the appropriate interpretation of shariah for a community. 

“So why oppose a law that seeks to protect our children against pedophilia?”

Many posted disagreeing with me on religious grounds.  So I responded by posting excerpts from news items on  the position taken by some influential, global Muslim religious leaders and organizations:


The deputy grand Imam of Al Azhar, Sheikh Dr. Salah Abbas, issued a fatwa against child marriage. 

The office of the Imam of Al Azhar is considered the highest authority in Islamic law for Sunni Muslims, who account for around 75% to 90% of all Muslims globally.

According to the fatwa, both girls and boys must be 18 years old to get married; any marriage at a younger age is forbidden.


NU Chairman Calls on Indonesian Muslims to Help Prevent Child Marriage

 Said Aqil Siradj, chairman of Nahdlatul Ulama, the country’s largest Islamic organization, has called on Muslims to play an active role in helping to prevent child marriage in Indonesia. 

“Preventing child marriage is a mighty important thing to do, to avoid the negative impacts on women and children,” Siradj said, as quoted in a statement by the Rumah Kita Bersama Foundation.


The Muhammadiyah reform council (MTT) 2018 national meeting, which ruled that since children were “a gift from God,” they needed to be protected at all costs, including from child marriage. For instance, in defense of child marriage, parents cite fears that their daughters will become spinsters as unmarried women have a low status in society; the belief that “flirtatious” teens should be married off “to avoid sin”; the conviction that marrying off minors, especially girls, will save a family from poverty; and that girls who became pregnant should be married off to protect the family’s honor — even if the prospective groom was her rapist. With weak law enforcement allowing child marriages, the latest figures show that Indonesia still has among the world’s highest cases of child marriages. Child marriage also contributes to Indonesia’s high maternal and infant mortality rate, as well as poor infant growth and development — despite all the rhetoric about “developing quality human resources”. 

How do you stand? 

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Amina Rasul is the President of the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy, an advocate for Mindanao and the Bangsamoro, peace, human rights and democracy)

Your perspective matters! Leave a comment below and let us know what you think. We welcome diverse viewpoints and encourage respectful discussions. Don't hesitate to share your ideas or engage with others.

Search MindaNews

Share this MindaNews story
Send us Feedback