Archive for the ‘Child Marriage.’ Category

Marriage not sole option for underage pregnant girls – Lasimbang

Tuesday, August 11th, 2020

Jannie Lasimbang

PENAMPANG: Give underage pregnant girls the chance to be educated and single mothers instead of the sole option of marriage to cover family shame, urged incumbent Assistant Law and Native Affairs Minister, Jannie Lasimbang.

Lasimbang said the Parti Warisan Sabah-led government officially raised the minimum marrying age to 18 and in a time consuming legislation before it was interrupted by a power struggle in the state.

However, beyond legislation, the biggest challenge faced in tackling underage marriage would be the community who think marrying off their underage children who accidentally got pregnant would be the right thing to do.

“The biggest thing would be related to the social norms. For an example, if they get pregnant… cover their shame, get their child married. They (parents) never tell them (daughters) about the other options,” said Lasimbang at the PACOS Trust World’s Indigenous Day Webinar press conference here.

“Such as, ask the girl or the girl’s family whether she wants to get married or not. If she is pregnant, she could also not get married and consider the child for adoption or if the family is ready, she could be a single mother.

“It is not necessary to marry them off because as we know she might not get a chance [to an education], as according to statistics and our research, some 98% will not go back to school and other things. So, it is better that they are given this option,” she explained.

Besides that, Lasimbang said awareness campaign should go on and integrating a comprehensive sex education into the system must be considered in the nation.

“This is something that is a bit sensitive but we want to cooperate with the women’s ministry and also the education ministry at the federal level. They could introduce suitable curriculum,” she revealed.

“We also want parents to take more care of their children and not allow them to be exposed to social media that may not benefit them.

“Finally, the importance for young people to be independent and also support for them. If the family is in need, normally due to poverty, there should be support for them in terms of economic.

“In terms of single mothers, for example, we still have too little funding to support them although they are now recognized by the Welfare Department as one of the sectors that really need help,” added Lasimbang, also incumbent Kapayan assemblywoman.

Lasimbang said she was surprised that the highest number of people requesting for assistance in her constituency in the past were from the single mothers group.

“I thought the senior citizens would need more help but, everywhere, it is mostly about single mothers. They are usually abandoned by their husband, some are very young and some are young with no support,” she added.


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RMCO: Children can go out to play, eat and shop with parents

Wednesday, June 17th, 2020
Parents are advised not to bring children to crowded places. -NSTP/AIZUDDIN SAADParents are advised not to bring children to crowded places. -NSTP/AIZUDDIN SAAD

KUALA LUMPUR: Children are allowed to leave homes to go to playgrounds, restaurants and shopping malls but parents should avoid bringing them to crowded places to prevent the risk of contracting Covid-19.

Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said while there was no rules preventing children from going out, parents are reminded and encouraged to keep them safe at home, since children are a high-risk group for the disease.

“Parents will not be punished for bringing their children along to playgrounds, restaurants or shopping malls. But they are advised against heading to crowded areas or confined spaces where social distancing cannot be observed.

“Although playgrounds and malls are now open, the standard operating procedures (social distancing, use of hand sanitisers and wearing face masks) must be observed at all times.

“Parents have to care for their own children’s safety. Ensure they are taken care,” he told a press conference today.

By Tharanya Arumugam.

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‘Some girls are married off at 12’ shock

Friday, March 13th, 2020

Shafie (seated middle) posing with Frankie (fourth right), Tangau (fifth left), Safar (third left), Noni (seated left) and MPWS main committee in the event.

KOTA KINABALU: Child marriages are occurring in rural areas in Sabah involving young girls as early as 12, said Health and People’s Wellbeing Minister Datuk Frankie Poon.

He said this worrying situation was revealed in an interactive module for secondary schools version on child marriages (MIPK) that was jointly established by Sabah Women Advisory Council (MPWS) and Sabah Women Affairs Department (Jhewa).

MIPK aims to create more awareness among students on the issue and to educate students on the negative impact of child marriages.

“In exposing child marriages issue to the communitiesm especially in rural areas, MPWS and Jhewa created MIPK in 2018 and I commended their efforts for their success in implementing this important module.

“MIPK facilitators did a roadshow in Kudat, Kota Marudu, Kota Belud, Pitas, Ranau, Tambunan and Kota Kinabalu and I was made to understand that the programme received encouraging response from students and parents.

“A finding from the roadshow showed that child marriages in rural and remote districts in Sabah happened to girls as young as 12,” he said, adding that he hoped that the module could reduce child marriages in the country, including Sabah.

Frankie said this in his speech at the State level Women’s Day celebration themed ‘Balance for Better’ officiated by the Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal here, recently.

He said reaching out to young children like in primary schools is also important so that they, including their parents, could be exposed on the issue.

Due to the positive response to the module, he said MPWS and Jhewa are now in the midst of creating MIPK for primary schools to benefit pupils and be in the know about child marriages issue.

Frankie said the process of creating the interactive module for pupils will be carried out soon and hoped to be published and implemented within this year.

“The State Government via my ministry is committed in cultivating a gender equality perspective by planning and implementing community development programmes. Under the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP), my ministry was allocated with funds to carry out women development programmes under Jhewa.

“First, the Upgrading Women Information System Electronic (WISE) programme which now has been changed to Digital Electronic Women Information (DeWI) in line with the ministry’s digitalisation Development Initiative Programme.

“DeWI is a database to register information on single mothers, women entrepreneurs and self-employed women,” he said.

So far, Frankie said DeWI registered a total of 5,788 single mothers and 865 working women in Sabah.

Under the 10MP and 11MP, he said Jhewa has been given funds for implementing gender development programmes and next funding would also be given under the 12MP which the department has submitted its application.

On the theme ‘Balance For Better’, he said balance is vital and needed to enjoy the wellbeing in life for men and women where they must work together in building the next generations whom are the future of the nation.

He said the message behind the theme is closely related to roles, rights and responsibilities in carrying out various duties at one time as an individual, wife, mother, daughter and a worker.

Meanwhile, MPWS Chairperson Datuk Noni J. Said reiterated here call that Sabah achieves its policy of 30 per cent women’s participation in decision-making process, which was introduced in 2004, in the public and private sectors.

She believed that women’s roles should not be limited to family institution but also in making important decisions and policy makers in economics and politics.

“I am repeating my request which I often called on concerned authorities since I was the MPWS Chairperson from 1991 to refer the position of Sabah women holding posts at decision-making level.

“The policy to have women’s participation in the decision-making process for Sabah is still far under the 30 per cent target.

“I am calling on the State Government to give support and opportunities for us women to reach the 30 per cent target at leadership posts such as being assemblywomen, State Cabinet members, heads of departments in the public sector and statutory bodies, councillors in local authorities and holding posts of community leaders like native heads at State and district level, among others,” she said.

Noni also called all women NGOs, private companies and village communities to cultivate a practice of celebrating Women’s Day every year that could be organised based on their capabilities, needs and requirements.

She also congratulated several NGOs and private companies that took the initiatives to celebrate the annual Women’s Day 2020 such as Federation of Chinese Association Sabah (FCAS), IKSNITA, Soroptimist and Inanam Point market that held various activities in conjunction with the celebration like health talk, and giving out donations to underprivileged people, among others.

Also present were Shafie’s wife Datuk Shuryani Datuk Shuaib, Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Wilfred Madius Tangau, his wife Datin Seri Datuk Dr Jaina Sintian, State Secretary Datuk Safar Untong and senior officials.

By: Hayati Dzulkifli.

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Child marriages: Sabah among top states

Wednesday, January 29th, 2020

SOOK: About 14,999 child marriage cases have been recorded throughout Malaysia where Sabah is ranked among the top three together with Sarawak and Kelantan.

Sabah Democratic Action Party (DAP) Women Chief Clare Taunek said an awareness campaign is important to end child marriage for the future of the children and nation.

She said that child marriage affects all races, ethnicity, religion and gender and that it occurs in other communities, particularly in rural areas.

She said this during the Stop Child Marriage Talk campaign, held at SK Nandangan Sook recently.

Taunek said Sabah DAP Women is committed in organising the campaign at all districts.

She said the tentative programme include awareness talks with students and parents and forums between non-governmental organisations (NGO) and government departments.

There will also be study sessions in selected district based on the high number of child marriage cases, she said.

“Let’s break this tradition and I call upon parents and teachers to join us in making this campaign a success. We want to ensure the future of our children, especially our girls, so that they can have better future for themselves.

“Many in our society are still lack of awareness that children under the age of 18 have the right to education and to marry them off is a crime,” she said.

She, meanwhile, commended the school community’s efforts in raising motivated pupils.

Also present at the event were school principal Puan Safiah, PIBG head Puan Suana, village chief KK Raulin, teachers, parents and pupils.

By: Mail Matthew

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Move to curb child marriage

Friday, January 17th, 2020

PUTRAJAYA: The government has outlined seven objectives, 17 strategies and 58 programmes and actions to address issues of child marriage through a five-year strategic plan.

The strategic plan will tackle six major causes of underage marriage.

Among the six causes identified are poverty, lack or no access to reproductive health education, lack of access to education and society’s stigma that marriage is the best choice to solve problems.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said the plan would not merely tackle the causes of underage marriage, but also indirectly help to overcome other social issues affecting families and children.

She said, for instance, the social stigma that child marriage was the best solution to address unwanted pregnancies must be removed.

“Underage marriage will have a profound effect on the health of a teenager and there are studies that found that girls aged between 15 and 19 who are pregnant face a higher risk of death during pregnancy or birth.

“We believe that if we can address the causes, the issue of child marriages can be eradicated, ” said Dr Wan Azizah, during the launch of the 16-page document at her ministry here.

The Women, Family and Community Development Minister said the societies need to change this mindset, as underage marriages would not solve problems, but in fact, could lead to even more troubles.

“In the past, underage marriages were practised because the socio-economic situation, education opportunities and the realities of life at that time made it normal.

“But today, education opportunities are better, technology is more advanced, the socio-economic outlook is more positive and there is higher awareness that children deserve the chance to expand their potential.

“With this, child marriages should not at all be the option or solution to any problems, ” she said.

Dr Wan Azizah also said the government would continue to publicise the existence of shelters for pregnant teens to prevent baby dumping cases.

“It is important that those who are pregnant but are not married do not dump their babies.

“We want them to be aware that there is a support system for them and that child marriage is not the solution, ” she said.

Dr Wan Azizah added that among the initiatives in the plan was strengthening the existing socio-economic and outreach support programmes, increase the minimum marriage age to 18 for girls as well as providing self reproductive health services that were children-friendly.

She said a steering committee spearheaded by Women, Family and Community Development Ministry and participated by all agencies would be set up to monitor the implementation of the plan.


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Wait until adulthood, young advised

Friday, October 4th, 2019
TAWAU: Chairlady of Tawau Branch Planning Association, Yvonne Ching, said the young should live responsible healthy lifestyles and stay away from intimate relationships until they are adult and ready to marry and start a family.

Her advice is in view of the baby dumping cases which have become a growing concern in Malaysia at a “Dance Baby Dance” campaign held by the association at St. Patrick’s Secondary School Hall here recently.
It was reported recently that 1,010 babies were dumped or abandoned soon after birth, mainly by young unwed mothers from 2010 till May 2019. Sixty-four per cent of these babies were dumped or abandoned in toilets, garbage areas, drains or among bushes.
They were found dead or died soon after in hospitals. Others were handed over to the Welfare Department for subsequent adoption. Babies that were fortunate enough to live bore the stigma of being illegitimate.

The Sabah Family Planning Association has taken up this concern and has been organising different awareness campaigns over the past few years. Kota Kinabalu, Lahad Datu and Tawau branches have successfully organized “Run Baby Run”  campaigns successfully. The targeted participants were secondary school students and young working adults.
This year, Sabah Family Planning Association Tawau branch organised a “Dance Baby Dance” instead of a run to add a new twist to the awareness campaign with the participation of more than 200 participants.
Yvonne presented the alarming statistics of baby dumping and gruesome pictures of dead babies in the campaign.

Everyone enjoyed the vigorous fit exercises led by three different teams of voluntary instructors from Power Muscle Gym, V Fit Studio and D Ultimate Studio.
Tawau Family Planning Association hopes the Tawau community will continue to give similar support in future and help to drive home the message that babies should be born into loving families that will welcome them and bring them up to be good and responsible people.

She also expressed gratitude to all who showed their strong support and kindly rendered help in different ways.
By: Christy Chok

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Sabah to focus on ending child marriages

Friday, July 5th, 2019

KOTA KINABALU: The Law and Native Affairs Ministry, which is committed to end child marriage in Sabah by setting 18 as the minimum age, has embarked on a State Action Plan with relevant stakeholders.
Assistant Law and Native Affairs Minister, Jannie Lasimbang, said the Ministry will form a taskforce to discuss legal amendments, oversee the development and implementation of an action plan and continue to strategise on the issue.
“This is a multi-stakeholders, inter-ministerial matter and we will continue consulting and obtaining commitment and the required support from all parties,” she said, following a three-day workshop at Lintas Platinum Hotel, here. It was jointly organised by the Ministry and United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef).
Key stakeholders discussed proposed legal reforms, map current interventions, learn from regional and global trends and best practices to address child marriage, and develop an action plan with next steps and responsibilities included. These stakeholders comprised policymakers, government officials, judiciary officers, and civil society organizations.

“Children and youth should be given the right to a childhood, a time before the busy start. They should not be thinking about household matters,” said Nur Mashitah Matusin, 17, a Girl Guide from SMK Agama Kota Kinabalu.
“It is not fair for a youth to carry the heavy responsibility of being a wife and mother,” she said.
Unicef Deputy Representative in Malaysia, Radoslaw Rzehak, said the children have spoken, and people must listen.
“We need to end child marriage urgently. Child marriage robs a child, not only of their childhood, but also of their future.

“Unicef is committed to support the implementation of the Sabah state action plan and will continue to extend its technical expertise and support to the Ministry and other stakeholders.
“Sabah is showing the way in making sure that without exceptions, no child is married before 18. This is a significant gift for every child on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. “
The seminar was attended by participants from the government, judiciary, and civil society organisations including Assistant Education and Innovation Minister, Assistant Health and Wellbeing Minister, Norazlinah Arif, Law and Native Affairs Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Haji Faimin Kamin, Native Court judges, Syariah Court, as well as representatives from Women, Family and Community Development Ministry, State Attorney-General Chamber, Suhakam, Sabah Law Society, child rights and community-based NGOs, and Girl Guides Association of Malaysia

.By: Larry Ralon.

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Protect girls, end child marriages

Sunday, October 28th, 2018
(Stock image for illustration purposes) In July, the media reported the marriage of an 11-year-old girl to a 41-year-old man. Reason for marriage? To “protect and provide”, as she was uneducated and came from a poor family. Similar reasons were cited for the marriage of a 15-year-girl to a 44-year-old father of two last month.

WHAT a historic year this has been for women and girls. The international #MeToo movement catalysed the long-awaited reckoning of powerful male figures guilty of sexual crimes.

At home, this coincided with the election of a new government in May, and the country’s first woman deputy prime minister, Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail. Her stewardship of the Women, Family, and Community Development Ministry signals the present government’s determination to prioritise issues about women.

But the initial optimism waned with a spate of reports on underage marriages. In July, the media reported the marriage of an 11-year-old girl to a 41-year-old man. Reason for marriage? To “protect and provide”, as she was uneducated and came from a poor family. Similar reasons were cited for the marriage of a 15-year-girl to a 44-year-old father of two last month.

Although these may seem like isolated incidents, approximately 82,000 child marriages have been recorded in Malaysia up to 2010. The reasons for the prevalence of the practice are unclear.

Malaysians are unequivocal in their disapproval of the practice. The issue has been the subject of intense debate on all platforms. The public wants a firm response from lawmakers.

But what do Malaysian youth think about child marriages? In a recent survey conducted with hundreds of Form 4 students in 10 schools in Taiping and Kuala Lumpur, most of the male and female respondents disagreed that it was acceptable for girls to be married before the age of 18.

Female respondents said marriage would “prevent them from achieving their full potential” — an opinion echoed by their male counterparts.

In the same study, respondents agreed that delaying marriage for the sake of career advancement was acceptable. This shows that the respondents reject child marriages and are aware that it limits their life choices.

Policymakers, activists and concerned citizens have renewed their call to raise the minimum age of marriage across all states, especially for Muslims. For Muslims, marriages with persons under 16 years old are permitted with approval from the syariah court. For non-Muslims, the consent of the chief minister of the state is required, except in cases of customary marriages conducted within the indigenous communities.

Opponents of the move to raise the minimum age argue that such reforms would contravene religious teachings. Such an interpretation is dangerous and misleading. Compounding the problem, Malaysia’s dual legislative system (civil and syariah) places Muslim family and marriage laws under the purview of each state. A uniform amendment to each state syariah enactment would require the consent of each of the country’s nine sultans, as well as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

The minimum age of marriage is different under the civil and syariah laws, with the age for males set at 18 and females at 16. Why does such disparity exist? Is it for the benefit of males over females, from the standpoint of education and labour markets? These are questions that merit further scrutiny alongside solutions to the issue.

In this historic year for Malaysia, this practice has blighted the country’s goal to become a global example for women’s empowerment.

By M. Niaz AsadullahWan Farihah Ahmad Fahmy.

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No change in marriage age

Sunday, October 7th, 2018
Kota Kinabalu: Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal (pic) said the State Cabinet has agreed to retain the current legal marriage age of 16 for females and 18 for men.

The decision was made unanimously by the State Cabinet after a discussion with information and explanation provided by Sabah Mufti Datuk Bongsu Aziz Jaafar, over the latter’s recent suggestion that the age be lowered to 14 for females and 16 for men.

“The mufti explained that the statement was his personal opinion as a religious figure but not a Fatwa,” he said, after chairing a meeting with the State Action Council (MTN), here, Thursday.

He also said that those below that age should seek special permission from the Syariah Court to get married.

Children, he said, mature at an early age and are exposed to sexual matters much earlier and it is better to regulate and allow for marriage to take place at a young age.

Bongsu, however, did say that the most important aspect is a need to tighten the existing standard operating procedure on marriage involving underage children.

Shafie said Bongsu also held the view that the minimum age limit could be raised to 18 but there should be a choice in certain circumstances, in terms of custom and culture in some places in the State.

Bongsu’s suggestion was heavily criticised including by political figures and non-governmental organisations.

Rembau MP Khairy Jamaluddin took to Twitter to express his displeasure over the proposal, saying it was “madness” while Johor Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim also echoed the same sentiment.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail had said recently that the Federal Government is in the process of raising the minimum marriage age to 18.

Azizah, who is also Women, Family and Community Development Minister, was quoted as saying that a paper would be prepared by the Malaysian Islamic Development Department and her Ministry to raise the marriage age for Muslims.

This, she said, was to consider the best interest of the child. Since then, several muftis had offered differing views over the matter.

On MTN, Shafie said development projects in the State, especially federal projects, should be monitored with the cooperation of the State Government.

by Ricardo Unto.

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Finish studies, not marriage: UNICEF

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2018


Marianne Clark with Shafie during the courtesy call yesterday

KOTA KINABALU: Children should be given the opportunity to finish secondary education rather than engaging in marriage.

Maintaining 18 as the minimum age of marriage, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) representative to Malaysia Marianne Clark Hattingh said legislation alone was not enough.

The move, she said, should also be backed by other measures including support and education on the effects of child marriage particularly on girls.

“(We need) to ensure young people can finish secondary education, sexual reproductive health education and also make communities and families aware of the adverse effects on child marriage – on girl child especially.

“There should also be a social protection system to target children vulnerable to dropping out of school or to child marriage so that marriage is not seen as a solution for teenage pregnancies or poverty,” she said.

She was speaking to reporters after paying a courtesy call to Chief Minister Datuk Mohd Shafie Apdal at his office here yesterday.

The issue of child marriage had been making headlines recently particularly following the Sabah Mufti Datuk Bungsu Aziz Jaafar’s proposal for the minimum age of marriage for Muslims to be lowered to 14 and 16 for girls and boys respectively.

Shafie had stated that the government will consider all expert opinions and that the Law and Native Affairs Minister, former Shariah court judge Datuk Aidi Moktar will evaluate every opinion before deciding on the final minimum age limit.

According to Marianne, it was among the issues brought to the discussion with Shafie, who was receptive to the matter.

“He was very receptive to that; he has, as you know, expressed the need to study the issue and to come up with solutions so we’re willing to support that process,” she disclosed.

Other priorities, she said, were issues of undocumented children, facilitating birth registration, access to education especially for remote and indigenous people of Sabah as well as inclusive education for children with disabilities.


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