KUALA LUMPUR: Tenaganita, which promotes the rights of women, migrants and refugees, sheltered 11 'child brides' last year, some as young as eight.
The victims were Bangladeshis and Rohingyas.
"We detected the activities here in 2000," Tenaganita director Glorene A Das told Bernama. Malaysia is believed to be a transit and terminal point for child bride syndicates.
Oppression and poor quality of life in their own country have forced many Bangladeshi and Rohingya parents to resort to marrying off their daughters to foreigners through agents in other countries.
"Most of the individuals that Tenaganita shelter are those who have been identified as trafficking victims.
"We don't have anyone under our shelter now and the 11 girls we sheltered last year have resettled in their community here," she said.
Glorene said the organisation handled about 40 child trafficking cases, including the child brides, last year.
"We work with the police on the cases, sometimes the police themselves will refer cases to us," she said.
Prior to this, Glorene said Tenaganita, founded in 1991, also handled individual child bride cases from other countries including Vietnam, India and China.
It was reported that Malaysia had a child bride black market where Bangladeshi and Rohingya men could 'cash and marry' minors from their home countries.
Tenaganita was quoted as saying that the girls' parents pay between RM6,800 and RM7,000 to middlemen to marry off their eight to 17-year-old children to Bangladeshi and Rohingya men in Malaysia.
Bukit Aman CID director Datuk Seri Mohmad Salleh declined to comment when contacted.
He said however, that police would investigate every report and take stern action against the culprits. - Bernama