Malaysia was recently shook when news of an 11-year-old migrant girl’s marriage to a 41-year-old local man broke. The child is a Thailand citizen and the third wife of the bridegroom that already has two wives and six children aged between 5 and 18.
The incident went viral when a picture of the child holding hands with her new husband Che Abdul Karim after their wedding was circulated online. The situation caused an uproar among netizens with some deeming the relationship “disgusting”.
According to The Star, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail will be attending a special multi-agency meeting today to discuss the controversial marriage. Kelantan Welfare Department director Said Sidup said the meeting would be held at the DPM’s office in Parliament House.
Dr Wan Azizah said the marriage was illegal because the union had not received the consent of the Syariah Court as the girl was below the minimum legal age for marriage (which is 16 for girls), which in itself is a pretty neutral statement from Dr Wan Azizah that neither supports or detracts from the larger issue, and just pushes the authority back to the Syariah Court.
“The marriage is not legal and they must be separated,” Bernama quoted her as saying after launching a Hari Raya open house by Insaf Malaysia, however the DPM did not openly condemn the practice.
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 to get married if they get the consent of the Syariah Court and their parents.
Dr Wan Azizah also said that her ministry’s officials were still unable to locate the groom and that the issue should be viewed in a holistic manner to determine whether such a case involved any elements of paedophilia, child exploitation and child pornography.
She said it was time for the minimum age for marriage for females to be increased from 16 to 18.
Meanwhile, in a report by Malay Mail, Nik Salida Suhaila Nik Saleh, one of human-rights NGO Suhakam’s seven commissioners turned more than just a few heads when he went public in support of the husband. He said men who wanted to get married must be religious, knowledgeable, be self-sufficient, healthy, safe, have a career, and be responsible towards wife and child.
“Even if your wife is 11 years old, it’s fine. There are a lot of conditions in following the ‘sunnah’, not only because you’re a man!” Nik Salida Suhaila said in a public Facebook post.
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