Fewer child marriage cases now, says ministry


Chandar Singh (right), 18, and his bride Asha, 14, sit in a temple during their marriage ceremony in Rajgarh district,about 155km northeast of central Indian city of Bhopal in this May 11, 2005 file photo. - Reuters

KUALA LUMPUR: There were 9,061 child marriages recorded over the last five years, the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry said.

However, its deputy minister Datuk Azizah Mohd Dun said the trend has been going down over the last three years.

She said 6,286 Muslim youths - below 18 for males and 16 for females - tied the knot between 2010 and 2015 following approval by the syariah courts.

"A total of 2,775 underage non-Muslim marriages were recorded by the National Registration Department in the same period," she said when replying to a question by Datuk Sapawi Ahmad Wasali (BN-Sipitang) in the Dewan Rakyat Thursday.

Although the legal age of marriage for non-Muslims is 18, those below 16 can still get married with the approval of the chief ministers or under customary laws of Sabah and Sarawak.

Based on syariah court records, she said there had been an increase in Muslim child marriages between 2010 and 2012 - from 891 cases in 2010 to 1,045 in 2011 and 1,095 cases in 2012.

"However, the number decreased to 1,090 in 2013, 1,032 in 2014 and 1,025 last year," she said.

Azizah said the same trend was noted for non-Muslim child marriages in the same period.

Although amendments to the Child Act were made last year, Azizah said there are no provisions on child marriages because the matter is governed under family law.

However, she said the ministry is taking measures to address the issue through reproductive health education, awareness programmes and counselling.


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