Child marriage will likely be an offence

PARIT BUNTAR: The law that states that Muslim women and men can get married at the age of 16 and 18 respectively provided that they have the permission from the court, Menteri Besar or Chief Minister, will probably be abolished in the future. Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa said this was to open the door for a new law to be drafted that would ban child marriage.

“We are proposing for such provisions to be abolished, or in other words to ban child marriage and to consider it an offence for anyone to get married before reaching the minimum legal age.

“The ban is not in terms of syariah law, but just in terms of administration,” he told reporters after meeting zebra dove enthusiasts’ in Tanjung Piandang here yesterday. Mujahid, however, said that child marriage was quite a sensitive issue as it also involved the customs of certain ethnic groups, especially in Sabah and Sarawak. Commenting further, the minister said ulama, legal experts and non-governmental organisations will meet with the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry on monthly basis to discuss the issue of child marriage from the Islamic perspective.

“The discussion is also to see how the government can interfere in child marriage for the benefit of the general public,” he said. The issue of child marriage surfaced after the report on the marriage of a 41-year-old local man with an 11-year-old Thai girl in Gua Musang, Kelantan, went viral last June.

In another development, Mujahid said the National Harmony and Reconciliation Commission Bill is expected to be tabled in Parliament next year in a bid to curb the issue of racial and religious hatred in the country.

“The draft of the bill will have to be fine-tuned and approved first by the Attorney-General’s Chambers and the Cabinet before it can be tabled to the Parliament,” he added. – Bernama