PUTRAJAYA: The Syariah Court judge in Kelantan should help steer away from child marriage, says Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.
“Can they not try to help the circumstances and steer away from child marriage?” she said when asked if the marriage of a 41-year-old man to an 11-year-old girl in Thailand could be nullified since it was illegal.
Dr Wan Azizah, who is also Deputy Prime Minister, said the marriage was recognised from the perspective of Islamic laws (hukum), but not from the legal perspective.
On Sunday, it was reported that Dr Wan Azizah said the marriage between the girl and the man in Kelantan was illegal because it had not received the consent of the Syariah Court, as the girl was under the minimum legal age for marriage.
According to the Islamic Family Law Enactment, which applies in all states, the minimum legal age for marriage is 18 for a male and 16 for a female.
Those under the legal minimum age will only be permitted to get married if they get the consent of the Syariah Court and their parents.
The issue of child marriage came into the spotlight after the news of the man marrying a girl 30 years his junior went viral on social media, drawing flak from many parties.
Initial investigations by the Kelantan Welfare Department found that the marriage took place in Golok, Thailand.
The girl’s parents are said to be Thai nationals.
The Gua Musang Syariah Court let the man off with a mere RM1,800 fine.
Dr Wan Azizah said the girl was still in Malaysia and not in Thailand as reported.
“Attention was given to her,” she said after launching the Palestinian People’s Fund at the ministry here yesterday.
She said this in response to the action the ministry was undertaking next on the child marriage case.
Dr Wan Azizah said although the fine imposed on the man was only a slap on the wrist, it was based on existing laws.
She said the Department of Social Welfare could not take the girl under its protection because there was no sign of abuse.
“The doctors have examined her. The family treated her well. There was no basis for our officers.
“Our officers have given her counselling and attention,” she added.
Department of Social Welfare director-general Mohd Fazai Mohd Salleh said besides closely monitoring the girl, it was working with the Kelantan religious department on the matter.
Dr Wan Azizah said the ministry had not had formal talks with the state government, but had done so with the Syariah Court.
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