The Pakatan Harapan (PH) government cannot ignore child marriages because the pact had campaigned on resolving the issue, deputy minister Hannah Yeoh asserted.
The DAP MP reiterated her support on raising the floor age of marriage to 18 and expressed concern over the number of child marriages happening in the country over the last decade.
“The way I see it, we have no choice. We have committed to this in our manifesto, we have to work towards that.
“We cannot make excuses,” the deputy minister of women, family and community development told the Malay Mail.
In its election manifesto for the 14th general election, PH had made five special pledges for women. One of them was “ensuring the legal system protects women’s rights and dignity” that included “introducing a law that sets 18 as the minimum age of marriage”.
Yeoh highlighted the “staggering” statistics on child marriage cases her minister has obtained from the Department of Shariah Judiciary Malaysia for Muslims and the National Registration Department for non-Muslims.
Between 2007 and 2017, a total of 10,807 cases were registered for Muslims, with the top three states being Sarawak, Kelantan, and Sabah.
During the same period, there were 4,999 cases for non-Muslims, with the top three states being Sarawak, Johor, and Perak.
“[But] today if you announce a ban, which I fully support, it doesn’t solve the problem immediately. The problem doesn’t go away immediately. We need to know why the numbers are so high.
“We need to prepare the community, especially the cultural marriages, for such a legislation, for a ban,” said the Segambut MP, adding that the public should be educated on the harm of child marriages.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Mujahid Yusof Rawa said on Wednesday that the government would introduce more stringent procedures to temporarily curb marriages involving minors pending a permanent solution.
Rodziah Ismail, who is political secretary to women’s minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, said recently that while Putrajaya is committed to increasing the minimum age limit of marriage to 18 years, the matter is currently under the jurisdiction of the Islamic laws of each state.
This comes as Dr Wan Azizah said Putrajaya is powerless to nullify the marriage of a 41-year-old man in Kelantan to an 11-year-old girl, as Kelantanese Islamic laws allow children under 16 to get married with the permission of a Shariah Court judge. – Malay Mail