Another Child Bride, This Time 13-Year-Old

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As the controversy surrounding a 41-year-old man who married an 11-year-old girl continues to simmer, another case of a child bride has been reported.

The marriage involves a 19-year-old from Terengganu and a 13-year-old girl from Kelantan. They tied the knot at a mosque in Kampung Pulau Nibong here on June 20.

Ibrahim Husin, 67, the kadi who performed the akad nikah, said he was approached by the couple, who came with two witnesses, and a wali, who was the bride’s uncle.

“The girl’s uncle told me that his niece wanted to get married and he was willing to be the wali.

“I asked for all the relevant documents and, seeing that everything was in order, I performed the akad nikah for them. The akad nikah was done at Al-Uluwi-ah Mosque here on June 20,” he told the New Sunday Times.

He said he advised the couple to register their marriage with the Narathiwat Islamic Religious Council and Malaysian religious authorities.

However, Ibrahim, said he did not know whether the couple had done so.

“As far as I am concerned, I have fulfilled my responsibility. They wanted to get married and, according to the syariah law, they can marry as long as they have the wali, who must be either the bride’s father, male sibling or close male relative, and the girl has gone through puberty.”

Ibrahim, a former teacher who has been a kadi for more than 20 years, said it was not the first time he performed akad nikah for underage couples from Malaysia.

He said he had married several couples involving girls aged between 12 and 16.

“I do not see anything wrong in this as they were all married according to Islamic law. This situation (involving child marriages) is normal to me and other Muslims here.”

He said the Islamic religious council had permitted about 10 kadi in Takbai district to perform the akad nikah, including for couples from Malaysia.

Asked if he knew that the case of the Malaysian man who took a Thai girl as his third wife had caused an uproar, Ibrahim said controversy surrounding it would not stop people from crossing the border to get married here.

He said villagers here knew about the case, but were not shocked by it.

“The story spread like wildfire here… It was all over social media, especially Facebook, but people were not surprised by it.”

It was reported that the man, a Malaysian rubber trader, married the girl at a mosque in Kampung Padang Nyor, Sungai Golok, on June 18.

The case was picked up after pictures of their marriage were uploaded on Facebook by the man’s second wife.

The man was charged at the Gua Musang Lower Syariah Court and ordered to pay RM1,800 in fines for marrying without approval and getting into a polygamous marriage without consent.

Following the case, women groups and social activists lambasted the man for taking the girl as his third wife and called on the authorities to act.

They urged the government to take legislative action to put an end to child marriages in the country.

The Joint Action Group for Gender Equality said this must be done by raising the marriageable age to 18.

It said Muslim-majority countries that had raised the minimum age of marriage included Algeria (19), Bangladesh (18 for women and 21 for men), Morocco (18) and Turkey (18).

It said solemnisation of Muslim marriages in Thailand demonstrated loopholes in the Malaysian legal system. – NST