The Star Says

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Child marriages always wrong

HYPOTHETICAL situation: a 15-year-old girl and her 17-year-old boyfriend had sex, and the girl becomes pregnant. What happens then?

There are a few options. Both families could work together to help raise the child, while the couple continue to focus on their studies.

The couple could go for counselling and receive support from social services to raise the child as co-parents.

Foster care could also be an option, however unpalatable, for financially disadvantaged families who can’t afford to care for the child.

Or, as a certain Member of Parliament recently suggested, the couple could just get married. Problem solved. Really?

Now this is where it stops being hypothetical.

The Star, especially its R.AGE team, has worked with a number of NGOs, activists, lawyers, child rights advocates, etc. who have dealt with child marriages.

And what they tell us is quite frightening.

These experts can tell us how such cases usually go down.

It is hard to believe but there are quite a number of child marriages in Malaysia every year.

First of all, the children will most likely leave school, and get cut off from their peers, stunting their social development and creating a potential cycle of poverty for the young family.

The girl is also usually married into her husband’s family, so she will likely face what one criminologist calls a “power imbalance” in the marriage, which leads to domestic violence and sexual abuse.

Physiologically, the girl again has to bear the brunt.

Pregnancy is tough even for adult women, but for a child, it can be devastating.

The World Health Organisation estimates that girls aged 10 to 14 are five times more likely to die in childbirth than women 10 years older.

In short, that’s why all the experts agree - child marriages are always wrong.

There are no exceptions to the rule, no “special cases”, no religious grounds to argue on.

The very concept of child marriage is fundamentally detrimental and dangerous to children.

According to a joint report by Unicef and Al-Azhar University entitled “Peace Love Tolerance (Key messages from Islam and Chris­tia­ni­­ty on protecting children from vio­­­­lence and harmful practices): “Child marriage is no more than a custom; it is not part of the religion 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 the responsibilities that come with the union, so it is not right to apply this burden to children.”

Tasek Gelugor MP Datuk Sha­­budin Yahaya claimed that the me­­dia spun his words when reporting on his remarks in Parliament that girls as young as nine are “physically and spiritually” ready for marriage.

Let’s put aside the fact that The Star has published the video of his remarks in its entirety.

Let’s put aside that everything he said in Parliament that day is re­­corded in the Hansard.

Let’s assume he’s right, and the media misinterpreted what he said.

Even then, the facts remain.

Child marriages are still always wrong.


Tags / Keywords: The Star Says , child marriage , 13th Parliament , Dewan Rakyat , Speaker

More Articles

Filter by

Awas – the route to better road safety

21 June 2017

SAVING lives and limbs is not just about amazing feats of heroism and selflessness. More often than not, foresight, care and awareness can be equally effective. And what each of us does can mean the difference between life and death.

Marking a special day for all dads out there

18 June 2017

DEAR dads,

Don’t let the shock of mindless attacks diminish

14 June 2017

AT what point did Zulfarhan Osman Zulkarnain and T. Nhaveen stop being humans in the eyes of those who hurt these two young men so brutally that one is dead and the other is on life support?

There are long-term gains in using public transportation

11 June 2017

MANY of us love it that we can hop into our cars to drive whenever and wherever we want. Such freedom, convenience and comfort is hard to beat.

Don’t wait for dry spell to conserve water

7 June 2017

IT IS time for us to be dam watchers again. The southwest monsoon began in the middle of last month and that means Peninsular Malaysia and Sarawak will likely be hotter and drier until September.

Ensure there’ll be lasting lessons from his death

4 June 2017

THE police and Armed Forces have asked the public not to speculate about the events that led to the death of Zulfarhan Osman Zulkar­nain (pic), a navy cadet officer and final-year student at the Malaysian National Defence University in Sungai Besi.

A safe drive for our healthcare workers

31 May 2017

DOCTORS, nurses and other healthcare workers often save lives, but when they work long, gruelling hours, they themselves as well as their patients may be put in harm’s way.

Maid to order tips for employers

28 May 2017

WE ALL know what it is like to be an employee. And rare is the employee who has no complaints about his employer.

No country for old and sick people

24 May 2017

WE are getting old. The statistics show Malaysia’s inevitable march towards a difficult milestone – that of an ageing nation.

Honour the critical role teachers play

17 May 2017

MALAYSIA has been celebrating Teachers Day every year for almost half a century. Considering that yesterday was the 46th time, it is safe to say we all have at least an idea of the significance of the day.

  • Page 1 of 5

Go to page:


Recent Posts

More Columnists