Sabah to focus on ending child marriages

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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