"Sharia law states that females can be married as young as nine..."
But...but...Sharia is benign and completely compatible with Western notions of human rights!
Child marriage is rampant among those who believe that Muhammad is the supreme example of conduct (cf. Qur'an 33:21), but Islamic spokesmen in the West frequently assert that it is a cultural phenomenon that has nothing to do with Islam. They did not, however, tell the mullahs.
"The Prophet wrote the (marriage contract) with 'Aisha while she was six years old and consummated his marriage with her while she was nine years old and she remained with him for nine years (i.e. till his death)." -- Bukhari 7.62.88
Muslims take this seriously and imitate Muhammad in this. Article 1041 of the Civil Code of the Islamic Republic of Iran states that girls can be engaged before the age of nine, and married at nine: "Marriage before puberty (nine full lunar years for girls) is prohibited. Marriage contracted before reaching puberty with the permission of the guardian is valid provided that the interests of the ward are duly observed."
The Ayatollah Khomeini himself married a ten-year-old girl when he was twenty-eight. Khomeini called marriage to a prepubescent girl "a divine blessing," and advised the faithful: "Do your best to ensure that your daughters do not see their first blood in your house."
"Alarm as hundreds of children under age of 10 married in Iran," by Robert Tait in the Telegraph, August 26 (thanks to all who sent this in):
Iran has experienced a dramatic growth in under-age marriages that has seen the number of girls being wed before the age of 10 double in the space of a year, officially-compiled figures have revealed....
An Iranian NGO, the Society For Protecting The Rights of The Child, said 43,459 girls aged under 15 had married in 2009, compared with 33,383 three years previously. In 2010, 716 girls younger than 10 had wed, up from 449 the previous year, according to the organisation.
Its spokesman, Farshid Yazdani, blamed deepening poverty for the development, which he said was more common in socially backward rural areas often afflicted with high levels of illiteracy and drug addiction....
He said increasing child marriages were accompanied by a correspondingly high teenage divorce rate. Some 15,000 females aged 15-19 divorced their husbands every year between 2007 and 2010.
The statistics will fuel criticism that Iran's Islamic legal code allows children, especially girls, to be married at an inappropriately early age.
While Sharia law states that females can be married as young as nine, a 2002 ruling by the powerful Expediency Council laid down that girls below 13 and boys younger than 15 could only wed with their father's consent and the permission of a court.
However, critics complain that the legal standards in many socially conservative areas for allowing younger marriages are lax while a fundamentalist MP, Mohammad Ali Asfenani, has said Iran has a religious obligation to legally recognise the weddings of girls as young as nine
"As some people may not comply with our current Islamic legal system, we must regard nine as being the appropriate age for a girl to have reached puberty and qualified to get married," Mr Asfenani, chairman of the parliamentary legal and judiciary committee, told Khabar Online. "To do otherwise would be to contradict and challenge Islamic Sharia law."
Can't have that!