Govt working to ban child marriages, says minister

PARIT BUNTAR: The law which allows Mus­lim women and men, if they get permission from the court, mentri besar or chief minister, to get married at the age of 16 and 18 respectively, will probably be abolished in the future.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa said this was to pave the way for a new law to be drafted that would ban child marriages.

“We are proposing for such provisions to be abolished, or in other words to ban child marriages and to consider it an offence for anyone to get married before reaching the minimum legal age.

“The ban is not in terms of syariah law, but just in terms of administration,” Dr Mujahid said in Tanjung Piandang on Sunday.

Dr Mujahid, however, said child marriage was a sensitive issue as it also involved the customs of certain ethnic groups, especially in Sabah and Sarawak.

The minister said ulama (Islamic scholars), legal experts and non-governmental organisations would meet with the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry on a monthly basis to discuss this issue from the Islamic perspective.

“The discussion is also to see how the government can intervene in child marriages for the benefit of the public,” he said.

The issue surfaced after the report about the marriage of a 41-year-old Malaysian with an 11-year-old Thai girl in Gua Musang, Kelantan, went viral last June.

In another development, Dr Mujahid said the National Harmony and Reconciliation Com­­mission Bill was expected to be tabled to the Parliament next year in a bid to curb the issue of racial and religious hatred in the country.

“The draft Bill will be fine-tuned and ap­­proved first by the Attorney General’s Cham­bers and the Cabinet before being tabled in Parliament,” he said. — Bernama