Archive for the ‘Child Marriage.’ Category

Fewer child marriages

Friday, May 20th, 2016

THERE were 9,061 child marriages recorded over the last five years but they looked to be on a downward trend in the past three years.

Of the number, 6,286 Muslim youths – be­­low age 18 for males and 16 for females – tied the knot between 2010 and 2015 following approvals by the Syariah Court.

The rest, numbering 2,775, were non-Muslim, with the marriages recorded by the National Registration Department (NRD).

The figures were disclosed by Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Azizah Mohd Dun in her reply to Datuk Sapawi Ahmad Wasali (BN-Sipitang).

(Although the legal marrying age for non-Muslims is 18, those below 16 could get married with parental consent and written permission from the state’s chief minister or mentri besar, or under customary laws of Sabah and Sarawak.)

Azizah said based on Syariah Court records, there was an increase in Muslim child marriages between 2010 and 2012: 891 cases in 2010; 1,045 in 2011; and 1,095 cases in 2012.

However, the cases went down from 1,090 in 2013 to 1,032 in 2014, and 1,025 last year, she revealed.

“The same trend was noted for non-Muslim children for the same period,” she said, adding that the NRD recorded 553 cases in 2010, 502 in 2011, and 486 in 2012.

“But there was a slight increase in 2013 with 514 cases.”

The number of non-Muslim child mar­riages, however, dipped again in 2014 to 410 cases and 328 last year.

Although amendments to the Child Act were carried out last year, Azizah said no provisions were made for child marriages as they were governed under family law.

“However, the ministry is taking measures to address the issue through reproductive health education, awareness programmes and counselling,” she said.

She added that a Special Task Force on Underage Marriages, comprising representatives from relevant government agencies, child activists and academicians, had been set up to address the issue.

Read more @

Suhakam welcomes Child Act amendments, but wants legal marrying age raised to 18

Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

PETALING JAYA: The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) has welcomed amendments to the Child Act 2001, but wants the legal age for marriage to be raised to 18.

In a press release on Monday, its chairman Tan Sri Hasmy Agam (pic) said that they were concerned with the omission to prohibit marriages between any persons below 18 years.

“The Commission therefore urges the Government to amend all domestic laws to raise the legal age of marriage for all to 18 years, to be in compliance with the Child Act which defines children as those below the age of 18,” he said.

In general, Hasmy described amendments to the Act as “comprehensive”.

He said that it showed continuous improvements in the protection of children’s rights in the country and would forward its comments on the various amendments to the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry.

“The Commission also lauds the inclusion of two representatives from amongst children in the proposed National Council for Children, which, properly implemented, will promote the involvement of children in the decision-making process in matters affecting them,” he said.

He hopes that even though the child representatives are only two out of seven Council members, their views and concerns would be taken seriously, in line with Articles 12 and 13 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

“The Commission also hopes that the discretionary powers of the Minister to revoke the membership of the child representatives are clearly defined to avoid any misuse of the powers under Clause 4A(1) of the Bill,” he said.

However, Hasmy said that the Commission was also concerned with the omission of any specific provisions on child pornography.

“At present, there are no specific penal laws in Malaysia to cover holistically the issue of child pornography.

“In the light of Malaysia’s obligations under the CRC and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography 2000, the Commission urges the Government to consider introducing specific provisions under the Child Act or the Penal Code, to address the issue of child pornography,” he said.

Hasmy also said that while Suhakam welcomed the substitution of whipping punishments for male children with community service, it noted that caning was not abolished in primary and secondary schools.

Read more @

12,473 rape cases involving youths in Sabah

Thursday, December 3rd, 2015

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah recorded 12,473 rape cases involving mostly teenagers between 2011 and June 2015.

Community Development and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Jainab Ahmad said based on police statistics, 11,667 of the victims were teenagers aged 13 to 18 while the rest were children.

“This indicates that teenagers accounted for 93.5 percent of the total number of rape cases. Police reports also show that there were 435 cases of abandoned babies in Sabah from 2011 to June 2015.

“Therefore, all parties should work together to find a solution to the problem and also prevent young people from being involved in social problems,” she said when launching the “Sebening Kasih, Sejuta Harapan; Melestari Keluarga Bahagia” programme organized by the Education Committee of the Sabah Women Advisory Council (MPWS) at the Industrial Training Institute in Sepanggar near here yesterday.

Also present was the programme’s organizing chairperson, Maimunah Suhaibul who is also chairperson of the MPWS Education Committee.

Jainab said apart from rape cases, teenagers were also plagued by the problem of pregnancy out of wedlock. According to the Ministry of Health, Sabah recorded the highest number of teenage pregnancies, with 4,795 cases. “Of the total, eight per cent or 372 cases involved unwed mothers,” she said.

As such, Jainab said such programme should be continued to create awareness among teenagers and to prevent them from being involved in immoral activities.

As teenagers are important assets for the country, she said they needed to be given proper guidance and education so as to become responsible citizens.


Read more @

Education key to protecting children from sex abuse

Sunday, February 9th, 2014

THE number of cases involving sex with minors may not have reached alarming proportions in this country yet, but the upward trend in itself is worrying.

The cases that appear before the courts may reveal only a fraction of the actual incidents whereby minors are taken advantage of sexually, often in the so-called safe havens of their own homes.

Then there are the unresolved cases of violent sex against minors as well as the issue of child marriages.

We have to face the fact that attitudes towards sex are changing, especially among the young, because they are now exposed to many sources of information, both good and bad.

In our ever-connected world, there is easy access to pornography which gives a warped view of true sexuality and embolden the older perpetrators to take advantage of their young victims. Likewise, exposure also leads innocent minds to venture into danger zones.

And as our country drives towards being a fully developed nation, family time is highly compromised as parents caught up in the rat race have little time to properly raise their children. The proliferation of liberal views directly challenges traditional and cultural norms.

The adults need to wake up to the reality that the young people are probably more aware of sex issues than they were when they were in the same age bracket a generation ago.

In Nilai, near Seremban, parents are fuming over the questionnaire that was distributed to primary school pupils to gather information about their sexual activities.

Understandbly so, as the questionnaire seeks to find out from these young children details about their sexual activities, homosexual tendencies and multiple sexual partners, among other things.

But we must also not lose sight of the bigger picture.

While the approach and the target audience of the survey may be deemed inappropriate, there is a need for policy-makers to gather accurate information about the sexuality habits of our young.

If the rationale is explained, and the survey is conducted properly, we not only get a clearer picture but are also able to come up with appropriate measures to tackle this problem.

All questions can be framed to reach a certain target audience and we cannot assume that primary school children should not be asked anything about sex because the subject matter is taboo.

The Star Says.

Read more @

More unwed teen pregnancies

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

WORRYING: A lack of parental guidance is the root of the problem, says doctor.

KUALA LUMPUR: THE problem of teenagers becoming pregnant out of wedlock has reached worrying levels, with the nation recording  1,048 such cases from January to March last year.

This translates into an average of 12 teen pregnancies a day.

While the figures paint a grim picture, it is even more alarming considering that Malaysia is on track to record its highest number of teen pregnancies in four years.

Statistics by the state Health Department from its Teen Pregnancy Statistics Manual 2012 showed a spike in the number of maternal death among teens, with five cases recorded in the first three months last year, compared with 17 for the whole of 2012.

Data collected from adolescents who sought antenatal care in hospitals showed that 18,847 teen pregnancies were recorded in 2012, of whom 4,183 were unmarried.

Family Health Development division assistant deputy director Dr Nik Rubiah Nik Abdul Rashid said while there were many factors that contributed to unwanted teen pregnancy, lack of parental guidance was identified as the root of the problem.

Child marriages on the rise

Monday, October 7th, 2013

PETALING JAYA: In Malaysia, girls under the age of 16 cannot legally drive or buy cigarettes. They can’t even watch certain movies or go clubbing. But they can marry – lawfully at that.

And many are increasingly doing so, according to statistics from the Malaysian Syariah Judiciary Depart­ment (JKSM).

In 2012, there were around 1,165 applications for marriage in which one party, usually the bride, is younger than the legal marrying age. The Syariah Courts approved 1,022 of them. This is an increase from the 2011 record, when some 900 marriages involving at least one Muslim minor were approved.

As of May this year, JKSM received 600 marriage applications, of which 446 had been approved.

In Malaysia, the legal minimum marriage age is 18, but it is 16 for Muslim girls. Those aged below 16 can marry with the consent of the Syariah Court.

Malaysia, along with over 90 other countries, adopted a United Nations resolution to end child, early or forced marriages, at the Human Rights Council last week.

However, JKSM’s data shows that child marriage is very much rampant in Malaysia.

Sisters in Islam said it was shocking that child marriage still existed in the country because of loopholes in the marriage laws and a con-tinuing belief that girls should be married off once they reached puberty.

by Hariati Azizan.

Read more @

Child marriages not a religious or cultural issue

Monday, October 7th, 2013

AFTER struggling for three days in labour, Fawziya Abdullah Youssef, 12, bled to death. Her baby didn’t survive either. It was later revealed that the Yemeni child bride had suffered even before that. Fawziya’s mother said her daughter’s 23-year-old husband had beaten and even tied her down to have sex with her.

We do not have extreme cases like this being reported about Malaysians but we have read stories about girls being married at a very young age. In 2010, for example, there was a report about an 11-year-old girl who was married off to a 41-year-old man by her father in Kelantan. It wasn’t the fact that she was married at 11 that made the news but that she was found starving and barely conscious in a mosque two weeks after their wedding.

Malaysia’s adoption of a United Nations resolution to end child, early and forced marriage at the Human Rights Council last week could not be more timely. Calls for banning child marriages have been ringing loud in the last few years, but not much has been done about it as many see it as a religious and cultural issue.

Girls Not Brides global coordinator Lakshmi Sundaram highlights that child marriage is not officially endorsed by any religion.

“People often used religion and tradition to justify certain practices but it’s not really a religious obligation by any means in any religion in the world. It must also be noted that child marriages happen in all religions in the world. It is a problem across the world,” she says.

Sundaram believes it is more linked to man-made traditions, which can be changed when they are no longer applicable in society.

While people who want to perpetuate child marriage hide behind this religious veil to block discussion and dialogue, others are scared to talk about it because they are scared of being accused of religious insensitivity, she notes.

Read more @

‘142 million child brides by 2020′

Friday, May 31st, 2013

STOP PRACTICE: There’s a need to debunk misperception that marriage protect girls.

KUALA LUMPUR: CHILD marriages can be eradicated not only with a strong political will, but also by educating  society, especially men, about the practice.

The “Girls not brides” global coordinator Lakshmi Sundaram said young men must be educated that girls married before they turn 18 were at a higher risk of complicated pregnancy and advised against it.

“The global community must take child marriage seriously. If we don’t, 142 million girls will marry as children by 2020,” she said at a press conference at the Women Deliver Global Conference 2013 here.

“Young boys should be educated that real men do not marry young girls.”

She said girls who married as children were not only more likely to lose out in education but also faced a higher risk of health problems and gender inequality as child brides had little say.

“Many child brides have also described their first sexual experience as forced. They are also more vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS.”

She said in the developing world, one in three girls were married by 18, one in nine by 15, and some were as young as 9.

“Complications in pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death for girls aged between 15 and 19 in the developing world.”

According to Unicef statistics, child marriages was 30 per cent or more in 42 countries with 75 per cent in Niger, Bangladesh (66 per cent), India (47 per cent), Afghanistan (40 per cent), Brazil (36 per cent) and Sudan (33 per cent).

Sundaram added that child marriage cut across countries, culture, religions and ethnicity and occurred around the world.

by Elivin Fernandez and Nuradilla Noorazam.

Ministry to tackle child marriages in rural Sabah.

Monday, May 27th, 2013

AWARENESS PROGRAMMES: Aim to change mindset of villagers who tend to marry off young daughters.

KOTA KINABALU: THE Women, Family and Community Development Ministry  will   introduce career awareness programmes to improve the living standard  of communities in the interior of Sabah to reduce the number of   child marriages.

Deputy minister Datuk Azizah Mohd Dun yesterday said early marriage was one of the contributing factors to the high number of single mothers and other social problems.

She also said marriages among minors were common in rural areas as they were a part of the local tradition.

“As some villagers are poor, they tend to marry off their daughters to reduce their financial burden. If their income increases, they will want their daughters to excel.”

When asked whether the ministry would face difficulties in tackling the issue as it involved local customs, Azizah said people would be willing to change for the better.