The Children’s Fund of the United Nations (PBB) has reminded Malaysia that child marriage under the age of 18 years old is grossly wrong as it goes against the basis of human rights.
Published on Friday, 07 April 2017 14:14
KUALA LUMPUR: The Children’s Fund of the United Nations (PBB) has reminded Malaysia that child marriage under the age of 18 years old is grossly wrong as it goes against the basis of human rights.
UNICEF has highlighted that marriage amongst children below 18 years old deny their right to education as well as leaving them exposed to potential domestic violence and health concerns, such as childbirth-related complications.
In light of this, UNICEF has expressed in a statement that the organisation agree with many state officials, ministries, several civil society organisations and religious leaders in Malaysia who have expressed their adamant disagreement with child marriage that occurs in this country, as reported by Malay Mail.
“Child marriage goes against the Sharia law and Islam as a whole. As a matter of fact, it goes against what the religion teaches,” Malaysia UNICEF representative Marianne Clark-Hattingh said in the statement.
The statement referred to a joint report by UNICEF and Al-Azhar University in Egypt which points out that, “child marriage is no more than a custom; it is not part of Sharia or worship and it leads without doubt to significant adverse effects. Therefore, the preferred age of marriage is after the age of 18 years. Marriage is a religious and social responsibility that demands the ability and willingness of both husband and wife to bear its responsibilities, so it is not right to apply this burden to children.”
“Alongside many others in Malaysia, UNICEF reiterates its call for the age of marriage to be set to 18, without exceptions, by amending the Child Act, the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act and the Islamic Family Law in each state in Malaysia,” the statement read.
“In response to recent calls to integrate child marriage in the new Bill on Sexual Offences Against Children, UNICEF advised that criminalising the practice without addressing the causes of child marriage risked driving the practice underground.”
theSun reported that Malaysia recorded 9,000 child marriages in the last five years and highlighted that a person below 18 years old is deemed a minor in the eyes of Malaysian Law.
However, Suriana Welfare Society of Malaysia chairman James Nayagam highlighted to Sin Chew Daily that these figures didn’t include unreported cases as many of these cases are the result of poor parenting – children as young as 14 years old are wedded of to men in their 50s or 60s in exchange for cash dowry.
UNICEF Malaysia child protection specialist Sivaselvi Supramaniam added that child marriage is not only prevalent in Malaysia, but worldwide with approximately 1.5million girls are wedded off on an annual basis.
theSun highlighted that about 1.4% of Malaysian mothers are aged between 15 years old and 19 years old, as the National Registration Department recorded 2,104 Muslim girls (16 to 18 years old) registered their marriages between 2011 and 2015.
Closer to home, statistics show the prevalence of this practice as a total number of 10,240 Malaysian Muslim female minors tied the knot in the last ten years since 2005.
– Malaysian Digest