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MALAYSIA: NEED TO REVIEW, STANDARDISE MINIMUM AGE FOR MARRIAGE

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia July 27 (NNN-(Bernama)In view of the issue of marriages involving minors, there is a need for the government and relevant parties to review and standardise the minimum age for marriage and come up with a reference that can be used by legal practitioners.

This view was shared by Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) Research Fellow (Law and Constitution) Dr Muhammad Fathi Yusof who said a detailed guide should be included in the existing enactment or act related to marriages involving minors.

Having a detailed guide is important for all. There is also a need for other details involving eligibility, financial status, the involvement of healthcare and counselling experts for those who have been married at a young age, he said.

He was commenting on the recent marriage of a minor, an 11-year-old girl, to a 41-year-old man from Kelantan in Narathiwat, Thailand.

It was reported that the Gua Musang Syariah Court had fined the man RM1,800 after he pleaded guilty to marrying a minor without the permission of the court and to polygamy as he did not get the consent of his wives.

Section 8 of the Islamic Family Law Act states that marriage for a male under the age of 18 and a female under the age of 16 is not allowed unless they get the permission of a Syariah Court judge in writing and with consideration of specific issues.

On a proposal that child marriage be made a criminal offence, Muhammad Fathi said that for now, Islamic family law and marriage was under the jurisdiction of the respective states while it was the federal government that handled the matter for non-Muslims.

“So, the federal government has no jurisdiction over Muslim marriages. The proposal will only be binding on non-Muslims, he said, adding that the marriage of a minor can only be made by civil and Syariah court orders and, if such marriages occur without the permission of the courts, then they are deemed offences.

Meanwhile, Habibah Kapawi, a former law lecturer from Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) Shah Alam, said all states in the country should standardise (Islamic) laws pertaining to child marriage and stipulate it as an offence.

Lawyer Fatien Eleena Jabridin was of the view that marriages involving minors impeded the children’s development and affected the human capital development of individuals and the nation.

Child tutor Puteri Farhana Megat Ahmad Shahrani, in agreeing with Fatien Eleena, said marriages involving minors were among the actions that supported paedophilia. Therefore, they should be stopped and regarded as offences.

“All child marriages should be made invalid immediately. The penalties should be far more than monetary fines. The minor in such a marriage will be mentally traumatised in her childhood years, not to mention (what) the physical abuse of an elderly man may cause her, she added.

She said the ongoing awareness campaigns should be continued so that governments, authorities, communities and schools were aware that the issue needed to be taken seriously.

“Make it viral. It helps in increasing awareness of the problem. Let people know that the NGOs are serious on this issue. Bring the fight to another level. Create public awareness on the fight against child marriage, said the Puteri UMNO executive committee member and Kuala Kangsar Puteri UMNO chief.

A legal practitioner, Sharifah Salmah Syed Mahdzar, said there should be more active awareness campaigns among women in protecting the rights of wives and promoting to the community that child marriages will only bring more harm.

It is obvious that such actions are to protect married females, especially those who are still weak and not fully mature, and minors, so that they are not neglected.

Meanwhile, a cultural and community activist, Fazleena Hishamuddin, said child marriages would challenge the physical and mental pressures that encompass various aspects of health, education and finance towards a minor.

She said married girls tended to leave school and were more likely to be shackled by poverty and a hard life.

“After becoming wives, the risks of these girls becoming victims of domestic abuse are much higher than women who marry at a later age, she said, adding that girls should be raised well for them to face the challenges ahead as they are central to the future of the nation.NNN-BERNAMA

Source: NAM News Network

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