Datuk Seri Wan Azizah comes under fire for saying the minor had given her “consent” to the marriage.
Commenting on the latest child marriage case in Tumpat, Kelantan, Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong has reminded Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail that she has a duty as a policymaker to ensure that laws and policies are in place to protect vulnerable groups, including children.
The Ayer Hitam MP said the Women, Family and Community Development Minister should not shrug off her duties in the matter by saying that the minor had given her ‘consent’.
“There will be a host of consequences to that ‘consent’, both to her and to our society later,” he said in a statement on Thursday (Sep 20) in response to reports about a 15-year-old girl marrying a 44-year-old man.
Wan Azizah, who is also Deputy Prime Minister, was reported as saying that the marriage was “consensual” and both bride and groom “mutually liked” one another.
He said Article 16(2) of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) prohibited child marriage.
He added that child marriage also violated the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which affirmed that a child had an inherent right to life, health and education.
“I believe child marriage has the potential to undermine the girl’s autonomy in all aspects of her life and will continue to be an impediment to improvements in her education, economic and social status.
“There is also research that suggests that early childbirth may post health issues to a woman at a later stage in her life,” said Wee.
He said he hoped the states would follow the example of Selangor’s Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah, who raised the marriageable age for Muslim males and females to 18 from 16.
“I applaud Tuanku’s wisdom in safeguarding the rights and welfare of his subjects and hope that other states will follow suit,” said Wee.
The 15-year-old girl was married off as the second wife to the 44-year-old man by her family because they did not want their youngest daughter to continue living a life of poverty.
The father Che Rahim Che Deraman, 60, confirmed that the marriage was solemnised in July upon the consent of the Syariah Court after the groom sought permission to engage in polygamy.
Che Rahim, who has 13 children, said all of his offspring were now married.
Before this case, a 41-year-old rubber tapper came under scrutiny for marrying an 11-year-old Thai girl in Gua Musang, Kelantan.
Earlier report: Sept 18, Another Child Bride in Kelantan: Girl, 15, Marries Father of Two