PETALING JAYA: The minimum marrying age for all Malaysians should be set at 18, with no exceptions, says DAP Wanita publicity secretary Kasthuri Patto.
"I look forward also to the Pakatan Harapan leadership to include cementing the age of marriage to minimum 18, with no exceptions for boys and girls regardless of race or religion," she said.
The Batu Kawan MP was commenting on a proposal to lower the voting age from 21 to 18, and said this should apply to marriages as well.
Kasthuri said it is time for Malaysia to follow other Muslim nations which have increased their minimum age of marriage to 18, such as Egypt, Morocco and Algeria.
"Setting the marrying age to 18, with no exceptions, will be an outstanding and noble gesture to uphold the rights of children to grow with their dignities intact under a Malaysia Baru," said Kasthuri in a statement on Saturday (June 23).
Under civil law, non-Muslims can only marry from the age of 18 but non-Muslim girls can marry as early as 16, provided they get the permission of the state chief minister or mentri besar.
For Muslims, the minimum age of marriage is 16 for girls and 18 for boys, but exceptions can be made for girls or boys to marry at a younger age as long as they obtain the Islamic courts' consent.
"Malaysia as a signatory of the United Nation Convention on the Rights of the Child has a moral duty to put its foot down once and for all to end child marriages," said Kasthuri.
"A child who marries is a human rights violation as their freedom is compromised," explained Kasthuri.
"They have health complications during their pregnancies which are a danger to both mother and child. They are also more likely to suffer domestic violence.
"Most likely, they will not complete their education, and with stunted knowledge, they will become attractive commodities to manipulate, exploit and violate.
"We will face an entire generation of children deprived of their rights to fully live their lives as Malaysians," added Kasthuri.
From 2011 to September 2015, a total of 2,104 cases of child marriages were recorded by the National Registration Department for 16-year-old non-Muslim girls.
Of the number, 680 of the girls married boys of the same age while 1,424 married men over the age of 21.
As for Muslim children, data from the Syariah Judicial Department revealed that between 2005 and 2015, 10,240 cases of child marriages were recorded.
"These shocking numbers must be the last child marriages in Malaysia," said Kasthuri.
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