PETALING JAYA: Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong (pic) is adamant to put a limit on the legal marriage age for Muslim girls in line with a mufti’s view.
Liew said there was a gap in the law concerning below 16 underage marriage as it did not specify “how young is too young”.
There is a need to look into reviewing the minimum age requirement for such girls despite them receiving their parents’ consent to marry, said Liew.
“I will look into it and do further studies on reviewing the minimum age because at the moment, there is no age limit as to when a child below 16 can marry with their parents consent.
“Do we start at 10 or even eight years old, because that is ridiculous to me as some of the girls have not even reached puberty,” said Liew in a recent interview with The Star.
He said this in response to a recent case where a 41-year-old Malaysian man living in Gua Musang, Kelantan, took an 11-year-old Thai national as his third wife.
The girl’s parents had consented to the marriage while it is deemed valid under Islamic law.
Liew said he was concerned about the case as it has seriously affected the child and the Government’s role is to protect children from such instances.
“We want to protect the girl and give our children freedom and education until they reach the age of 16, which is recognised under the law,” said Liew.
Relevant stakeholders will be consulted and further studies are to be carried out towards this end, he added.
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.
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.
Meanwhile, the Federal Territory Mufti’s Office in an article published recently agreed that the Government can and should amend the minimum age limit.
“The Government can and should amend laws that could better celebrate the objectives of Syariah.
“Therefore, the Government has the power to set policies to limit the minimum age for marriage because it falls under the category of taqyid al-mubah (tying something permissible with something beneficial) in order to maintain justice and not to forbid what God has made permissible,” read the “141st Bayan Linnas series: Child Marriage According to Syariah Perspective” article.
Bayan Linnas is a series of public statements by the Federal Territory Mufti’s Office regarding recent national issues.
The article added that the procedure of setting a minimum age limit for marriage has been adopted by Islamic countries such as Jordan, Syria and several states in Malaysia, and was supported by contemporary scholars such as Syeikh Mustafa Siba’ie and Syeikh Dr Muhammad al-Zuhaily.
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