Archive for the ‘Child Marriage.’ Category

Marriage of 11-year-old girl illegal – Dr Wan Azizah

Monday, July 2nd, 2018

KUALA LUMPUR: The marriage between an 11-year-old girl and a 41-year-old man in Kelantan is illegal, according to Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.

She said this was because the marriage had not received the consent of the Syariah court as the girl was under the minimum legal age for marriage.

“The marriage is not legal and they must be separated,” she told a press conference after officiating an Aidilfitri open house with 2,000 asnaf orphans organised by Insaf Malaysia at the Setiawangsa Mini Stadium here on Sunday.

Present were Setiawangsa Member of Parliament Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad and Insaf Malaysia president Ishak Abdul Kadir.

According to the Islamic Family Law Enactment which applies in all states, the minimum legal age for marriage is 18 for a male and 16 for a female. Those under the legal minimum age will only be permitted for marriage if they get the consent of the Syariah court and their parents.

Child marriage issue once again came into the spotlight after the news of a 41-year-old man who took a girl 30 years younger than him as his third wife went viral on social media, drawing flak from various parties since Friday.

Initial investigations by the Kelantan Welfare Department found that the marriage took place in Golok, Thailand and the girl’s parents were said to be Thai nationals.

Dr Wan Azizah, who is also Women, Family and Community Development Minister, said her ministry’s officials were still unable to locate the groom.


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Ban child marriage in Malaysia, NGOs tell Govt.

Sunday, July 1st, 2018

KOTA KINABALU: Children’s rights groups and activists from all over the country are calling for a ban on child marriage in Malaysia.

The Child Rights Civil Society Organisations Group (CSCG) said in a statement Sunday that child marriage was totally unacceptable anywhere in the world.

“No exceptions. It is not in the best interests of a child whose rights to health, education and protection are likely to be jeopardised as the child’s focus shifts from completing school to domestic duties and parenthood,” said the group.

It urged the government to take immediate action to ban child marriage by setting the legal minimum age for marriage at 18, and to fulfil what was promised in the Pakatan Harapan Manifesto on the issue.

“We hope that Deputy Prime Minister (Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail) will meet with child rights NGOs to address critical child protection issues,” it said.

This came following the recent marriage involving an 11-year-old girl to a 41-year-old Malaysian man, who already has two wives and six children in Gua Musang, Kelantan.

The CSCG said such a situation was not acceptable and against the basic principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) to which Malaysia is a signatory.

The group said as a party, Malaysia has to take effective and appropriate measures to abolish traditional practices prejudicial to the health of children.

“We ask the Pakatan Harapan Government to urgently do a complete review on child development and protection support systems which has more often than not failed our children.

“We urge the Government to work with and listen to NGOs as we exist to complement and support the Government to address serious gaps in the implementation of policies and laws for the protection of our children, both citizens and non-citizens,” the group said.

The group members comprise Sabah Women’s Action-Resources Group (SAWO), PACOS Trust, Sabah (Partners of Community Organisation), Childline Malaysia, Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO), Association of Women Lawyers (AWL), Yayasan Chow Kit, ARAM Foundation, Malaysian Advocates for Child Health (MACH), PUAKPayung , Educational, Welfare and Research Foundation (EWRF), Geutanyoe Foundation and Projek Layang Layang.

By Stephanie Lee.

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Suhakam concerned that child marriage legalises paedophilia

Sunday, July 1st, 2018
PETALING JAYA: The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) is troubled that “possible paedophilia activity” can be legalised through child marriage.

Suhakam chairman Tan Sri Razali Ismail also expressed his concern that child marriage will encourage sexual violence against children.

“Suhakam is concerned that at present, religious justifications supported by law may be used to provide cover for paedophiles and child sexual predators who marry the children/victims,” said Razali in a statement on Sunday (July 1).

According to international standards, child marriage is defined as any marriage carried out below the age of 18.

In Malaysia, it is still legal for children below the age of 18 to be married under Islamic and civil laws.

Non-Muslim girls can marry as early as 16, provided they get the permission of the Chief Minister or Mentri Besar.

For Muslims, the minimum age of marriage is 16 for girls and 18 for boys. But exceptions can be made for girls or boys to marry at a younger age as long as they obtain the Islamic courts’ consent.

Customary law sets the minimum age to get married for girls at 16 and 18 for boys. A parent or legal guardian may give their written consent for underage marriages.

“Suhakam does not think enough has been done to end child marriages in Malaysia and believes zero tolerance of child marriage must be enforced at every root of society,” said Razali.
Razali, on behalf of Suhakam, called on Syariah court judges and the authorities to stop child marriages.

“(They) must be held accountable for perpetuating this egregious practice,” he said.

Razali said that there is no justification to child marriage and the rights of the child must be protected.

“Suhakam also calls on the new government to take a principled position on this issue and to keep to its election promise to all Malaysians to set the legal minimum age of marriage to 18 for all persons,” he said.
Ending child marriage by 2030 is among the targets set out in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals that Malaysia has committed itself to.

“In the meantime, Suhakam recommends that the government and state religious bodies including the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) take active steps to inform the public about the detriments associated with underage marriages,” said Razali.

Razali also urged the Women, Children and Community Development Ministry to respond “more diligently” to the issue.
Razali’s comments come after news of a 41-year-old man marrying an 11-year-old girl.

The father of six took the girl as his third wife after he went to Golok, a border town in Narathiwat, southern Thailand, two weeks ago to have the marriage solemnised.

NGOs call for child marriage to be banned, criminalised

Sunday, July 1st, 2018

KUALA LUMPUR: The National Human Rights Society (Hakam) is calling for a ban on child marriage and for new laws to criminalise the act.

Its president, Professor Datuk Dr Gurdial Singh, said early marriages are a violation of human rights and the Convention on the Rights of a Child, of which Malaysia was a signatory.

“It is not sufficient to have laws allowing child marriage repealed. There must be laws that are put in place to prohibit and criminalise child marriage.

“Studies have shown that child marriage has devastating consequences especially for girls. Sadly, the problem is nothing new in Malaysia,” he said.

He said in 2010, the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry had revealed that there were close to 15,000 Malaysian girls in child marriages.

“The new government must take the initiative to come up with an action plan to protect Malaysian children especially girls from child marriage.

The National Human Rights Society (Hakam) is calling for a ban on child marriage and for new laws to criminalise the act. Pic by NSTP/ source from Social Media.

“The Pakatan Harapan (PH) manifesto included the introduction of a new law which sets 18 as the minimum age of marriage.

He urged the government to fulfil the pledge through the tabling of a law to eliminate child marriages at the coming parliament session.

“We also urge all Malaysians to contact their respective members of parliament to seek their commitment and support for the elimination of child marriages in Malaysia,” he added.

Meanwhile, Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) also called for immediate measures to be taken by the government to condemn child marriage through a legislative action.

“It’s appalling that this case has surfaced barely days after the ‘Girls Not Brides’ international conference held here, calling for a global ban on child marriage.

“This must be done by raising the marriageable age for all Malaysians, whether male or female, to 18-years-old, without exception.”

Muslim-majority countries that have raised the minimum age of marriage include Algeria (19 for both men and women), Bangladesh (18 for women and 21 for men), Morocco (18 for both men and women) and Turkey (which raised the minimum age of marriage from 15 to 18 for women).

The marriage of an 11-year-old girl as the third wife of a 41-year-old Malaysian man on June 18 had went viral on social media, causing an uproar among Malaysians

The online posting by the man’s second wife was accompanied by several pictures with a caption that read: “Selamat pengantin baru suamiku (congratulations on your wedding, my husband). Suami 41, Maduku 11 tahun (My husband 41, his wife 11-years-old).”


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Underage rape victims need help, not marriage.

Friday, August 11th, 2017

MOST of the time, we reflexively say we are fine when asked how we are. But the truth is, we have different ways of defining how it is like to be fine.

But here is something that is easier for us to agree upon – it is hard to imagine that a 16-year-old dropout is fine, considering she was raped at the age of 12, is married to the very man who violated her, and the husband is in prison for committing that crime.

That is a lot for a teenager to endure, let alone overcome.

By itself, statutory rape is already repugnant and devastating. But when the victim is married at such a young age to the person who took advantage of her naivete, she may well be facing hugely unfair odds in life.

The rape was committed in February 2013, in a parked vehicle on a road near a waterfall in Inanam, Sabah.

The man, a father of four and who is now 44, married the schoolgirl in May that same year in a bid to escape conviction.

He is currently serving a 12-year jail sentence. He was also jailed and fined for bribing the girl’s father so that the police report on his crime would be withdrawn.

The case sparked an outcry over the fact that it is legal in certain situations for rapists to marry their underage victims.

This is seen as a way for the rapists to avoid prosecution or at least to lighten their sentences.

The victims, however, may be deprived of the protection and support they need.

At the Dewan Rakyat on Monday, Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim provided an update on the teenager, who lives with her parents in Kota Kinabalu.

According to Rohani, the ministry visited the girl at her family home on April 18 and found her to be in good health.

The teenager did not go back to school after the controversy received wide media coverage. She told the ministry officer she was comfortable living with her parents and was taking care of her siblings.

While the parents indicated that they had no problems taking care of the 16-year-old, added Rohani, the girl said she intended to work so she could be self-sufficient.

Yesterday, the ministry issued a statement to point out that the Government did not encourage underage marriage as it affected a child’s potential and growth.

Referring to the case of the 16-year-old, the ministry said it would do its best “to give the necessary social support and counselling as well as monitoring intended to protect the child”.

The Star Says,
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Many statutory rapes in Sabah

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017

Kota Kinabalu: Deputy State Police Commissioner ­Datuk Razarudin Husain (pic) said as many as four out of five cases of sexual assault reported in Sabah involve statutory rape.

“They are frequent moral cases. Even though in some cases it is consensual sex, having sex with a girl below 16-years-old is still statutory rape.

“I see boys under age of 20 charged and put in jail for statutory rape. It is in fact a loss to the government because these youngsters are the manpower of the State.

“I see such cases happen a lot in Sabah…and I think the media should play a role in informing the people to take care of their children and create moral awareness,” he said, when asked for statistics.

He said this after police rescued three girls believed to be human trafficking victims and arrested an 18-year-old boy, believed to be their caretaker, at a hotel room in Sandakan, Monday. The girls, aged between 15 and 17, had no documents.

A public tip-off prompted police to raid the hotel premises where they found the girls in a room at about 6pm.

A total of RM300 was seized from the 18-year-old boy who holds a foreign passport.

“Such cases are not taken lightly, things like this should not happen, especially when it involves victims who are underage,” he said, adding that the case is being probed under the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act.

However, he said Sandakan could not be a transit point because things like this do happen, citing the February incident in Tawau where 11 foreigners were caught under the same Act.

“The victims are trafficked perhaps for vice activities or for labour but whatever it is, investigations are continuing,” he said.

“It is still too early to say much, we are still investigating but I think it was not that long,” he said when asked how long the victims were here prior to being rescued.

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The real ‘Beast’ is child marriage

Saturday, April 8th, 2017

BEAUTY and the Beast (1991) had a huge impact on my childhood. Out of the many Disney protagonists, I related most to Belle for her love of books, her dreams of escaping a provincial, small town life and the loneliness that comes from being non-conforming.

The feeling of being the odd one out escalated for me as, at the ol’ ripe age of nine, I had my first menses. Hitting puberty at such a young age was a psychosocial struggle, not only for missing out on simply being a kid like most of my peers, but for all the jibes I had to endure about my body and the sudden shift in responsibilities that came with “being an adult”.

I was also told that I was of “marriageable age”, as purportedly Aisha was betrothed to the Prophet at the age of nine. This particular part of Islamic history is commonly used by proponents of child marriage, despite the ongoing scholarly debate on the reputation of hadiths on this issue, with existing literature by Dr Jasser Auda and others calculating Aisha’s real age to be at 17 to 19 at marriage.

Even to my young mind then, I could not fathom being a wife and mother at an age when I could barely figure out how to put on sanitary pads the right side up.

Thankfully, my parents were progressive. Instead of being forced into marriage, I was chartered off to boarding school and gained a ticket out from my version of a provincial life, without the need to lift an enchanted curse off a prince and his household help.

In the 26 years between the release of the animated movie and the live-action version released last week in Malaysia, things have yet to improve for young Belles everywhere. Case in point: the parliamentary debate on the Child Sexual Offences Bill.

Responding to Kulai MP Teo Nie Ching’s proposal to include a minimum age for marriage in the Bill, Rantau Panjang MP Siti Zailah Mohd Yusoff and Tasek Gelugor MP, Datuk Shabudin Yahaya, used religion as an overarching excuse to exclude this clause from the Bill.

Shabudin even went further to allege that rape victims would “not have a bleak future” when married off to their rapists, and that such marriages would cure social ills.

Sifting through a number of news reports and watching a recording of the debate, I came to the conclusion that the Tasek Gelugor MP is a proponent of child marriage. Here, I wish to provide arguments for Malaysians to demand more from our MPs and push for a ban on child marriage.

While the Quran does not specify age of marriage, Surah An-Nisa provides guidance for Muslims to act with justice and compassion when deciding policies on marriage. Contrary to popular belief, physical puberty is not the sole measure of “marriageable age”, where Muslim judicial principles clearly state the need for intellectual maturity in handling one’s own finances and affairs to enter into a legal contract, such as marriage (for more information, refer to Musawah CEDAW 2012 and OHCHR 2013 reports available online at

I quote from the same resource: “Early and forced marriages have many harmful consequences for girls, including psychological and emotional trauma; domestic violence; and health problems such as premature pregnancy, maternal mortality, and sexually transmitted infections. These marriages are also entangled with other forms of vulnerabilities such as economic and social marginalisation. They often limit women and girls’ rights to education, employment, and financial independence.”

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Livestream: Why child marriages are wrong

Friday, April 7th, 2017

PETALING JAYA: Child marriages are “always wrong”, according to experts speaking on R.AGE’s live Facebook talk show, The Couch.

The show’s guests, criminologist Dr Geshina Ayu Mat Saat and child rights advocate Sharmila Sekaran, discussed an extensive list of points on how destructive child marriages are for those involved.

They were speaking in response to Tasek Gelugor MP Datuk Shahbudin Yahaya’s remarks in Parliament on Tuesday that girls as young as nine who had reached puberty could be “physically and spiritually” ready for marriage.

Dr Geshina, however, said that child brides are just not physiologically ready for sex and childbirth. Statistics quoted in a statement by Unicef shows that girls aged 10-14 are five times more likely to die during pregnancy and childbirth than women aged 20-24.

Geshina and Sharmila also discussed the negative psychological and socio-economic impact of child marriages on both parties, and fielded questions from the show’s online audience.
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Lawmakers scrutinise Sexual Offences against Children Bill 2017.

Tuesday, April 4th, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR: Lawmakers spent more than nine hours in gruelling debates over the Sexual Offences against Children Bill 2017.

The debate on the Bill, which was at the committee stage last night, will continue today.

The Bill was scrutinised by MPs who raised several questions on the working of the proposed law.

Their concerns included questions on why child marriages were not addressed as a sexual offence against children, how to deal with victims during testimonies, how authorities can deal with the “dark web” and underground global paedophile networks, and also child pornography.

Some lawmakers argued that Section 2 – which states the Act is to be used for children below the age of 18 – was confusing and could allow perpetrators above the age of 18 to escape prosecution.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said pointed out the Sexual Offences against Children Bill 2017 was drafted to protect victims from all form of sexual acts without taking into consideration their age.

She argued the Bill was specifically targeted to protect victims and this was clear from its title.

“This is for the victims, not the perpetrator. The perpetrator can be of any age,” she said, adding the age definition of a child was in line with the Child Act (Amendment) 2016.

On child marriages, Azalina said there are specific laws in Syariah and civil laws which allowed children below 16 to marry.

The current civil laws allows a person below 16 to marry with permission from the Chief Minister or Mentri Besar, while Muslims below the same age can marry with the consent of Syariah Courts.

She pointed out the Bill also allowed the Government to prosecute Malaysians who travelled abroad to commit sexual crimes against children.

This showed the government’s seriousness, she said, to nab sexual predators regardless of where the crime is committed.

Earlier Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rohani Abd Karim said the new laws were needed to punish those who preyed on children.

Due to the efforts of The Star in successfully lobbying 115 MPs to pledge their support for new laws against child sexual crimes, the Bill is widely expected to pass (112 votes are needed to pass the Bill).

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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.

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