Following the controversial marriage between a 41-year-old rubber tapper and an 11-year-old girl, Islamic Affairs Minister Datuk Mujahid Yusof Rawa confirmed that the government has initiated discussions towards putting an end to child marriages.
According to Malaysiakini, the Parti Amanah Negara vice-president revealed yesterday, July 18, that talks with Syariah judges have begun for a review of Islamic religious laws that currently allow minors to marry.
“Unfortunately, our laws permit a girl under 16 years old to marry by getting permission. For (underage) civil law (marriage), they can get permission from the menteri besar.
“We would like to protect our children from being exploited, especially if the marriage is justified in the name of Islam.”
However, Mujahid did not give a time frame as to when the ban will take effect. This is because the government needs to engage with stakeholders in both Islamic and civil law, as well as children’s rights advocates.
The Parit Buntar MP expressed his confidence that all relevant groups will act in the children’s best interest.
“We already have a paper ready as far as the Syariah bit is concerned. It is about getting the technicalities right and dealing with the public perception on both sides.”
The Islamic Affairs Minister acknowledged that since the government’s goal is to find a long-term solution, that means, child marriages might still continue for the time being.
MMO reported that Mujahid’s department will be meeting with Syariah judges to look into tightening existing provisions in the meantime.
Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Fuziah Salleh said that new stringent procedures would include physical, psychological, and emotional health checks, as well as determining the reasons for marriage and the financial status of the child’s parents.
Fuziah Salleh told FMT,
“If a judge doesn’t give his permission for an underage marriage according to the SOP, then the child cannot be married.”
Good thing that they are taking action on child marriages! This way, our little ones will be safe from exploitation!
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