The medical profession should have a thing or two to say on that, but you can count on Maldivian doctors to remain silent. Bilal Philips's remarks are also a direct contradiction of Maldivian laws under which the general age of marriage is 18 years. However, young people of 16 and above can be married off under special circumstances, at the discretion of the judge.
The Maldives has one of the highest child sexual abuse rates in the world and the speech by Philips will be seen by many as an endorsement of the pro-child sexual abuse ideology. Many child sexual abuse sympathisers - and there are many in this country - have long tried to justify sex with minors by claiming that once a girl attains puberty she is no longer a child
What is unacceptable is that the Maldivian Human Rights Commission, which has an obligation under national and international laws to defend the rights of children, and UNICEF, didn't feel a need to make a statement in response to Philips's speech. Other silent onlookers include the child protection services at the police department and the health ministry, MP Kutti Nasheed, and former MP Ibra, who champion against child sexual abuse only when it suits them.
The state broadcaster TV Maldives gave free, live airtime to Bilal Philips while the Adhalat Party-led Islamic ministry endorsed the preacher's visit. There are those that claim that without the support of the Islamic ministry, the Wahhabi NGO Jamiyyathul Salaf would never have been able to bring Philips to the Maldives. Meanwhile, the Maldives Human Rights Ambassador Mohamed Latheef, who was also spotted at a recent pro-flogging rally, was scheduled to meet Philips, though it is not known in what capacity.
The education authorities were no better. The principal of CHSE not only provided the pro-child sexual abuse preacher access into her school, but made it compulsory for her students to attend his talk.
On Saturday night, Bilal Philips was unabashedly condescending to women. While it was "permissible" in Islam, he said, for women to become heads of states, he warned of the consequences. "It's a fact," he said, that rule by women ended in failure, pointing out that this was what the prophet Muhammad had warned us a long time ago.
Bilal Philips also warned Maldivians against "Quranites". Recent Islamic scholarship has challenged people like Bilal Philips for their departure from the Quran and dependence on Hadith to endorse regressive, misogynistic ideology. In response, Wahhabis have attacked liberal scholars of being "Quranites". Philips notably dismissed the progressive Islamic scholar Amina Wadud as a product of Jewish brainwashing.
The preacher will find many fans among misogynistic, pro-child abuse Maldivians, who try to justify their ideology under the guise of Islam.
But I'm not sure what they made of his declaration that cigarettes are haraam.