PETALING JAYA: Sisters in Islam (SIS) has described Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail (pic) as “irresponsible” for her comments that no criminal element had been proven when it came to the issue of child marriage and the sexual grooming of children.
“These responses by the Deputy Prime Minister are not only irresponsible, but deliberately put the lives and futures of these child victims in grave danger, where laws are supposed to be there to protect them, ” said SIS.
The group also called on the Federal Government to take charge of the issue, instead of “pushing the blame” to the states following Dr Wan Azizah's comment that seven states have not agreed to amend their laws on raising the minimum age of marriage for Muslim girls to 18.
“The Pakatan Harapan government needs to explain what is being done to compel the seven states that refuse to cooperate.
“Stating that the Federal Government is unable to proceed just because seven states opposed it reduces critical national issues to be determined at the state level.
“As harm to our children is clearly evident, it is the responsibility of the elected Federal Government to step in and act in their best interest, ” SIS said in a statement Tuesday (Nov 19).
Earlier Tuesday, Dr Wan Azizah, who is also Women, Family and Community Minister, told Parliament that Putrajaya had not taken any action against those who groomed children for sexual acts under the Sexual Offences Against Children Act because “criminal elements cannot be proven”.
She had also gone on to say that it was difficult to determine the sexual crime because “many parents feel that it is good for the child to be married off”.
Dr Wan Azizah, who is also Women, Family and Community Minister, had gone on to say that it was difficult to determine the sexual crime because "many parents feel that it is good for the child to be married off".
SIS also urged Dr Wan Azizah to reveal if the draft of the National Strategic Plan to tackle the issue of child marriage, which is supposedly at its final stage, had included engagements with civil society organisations, especially those working on women’s and children’s rights.
“We also want to know if Suhakam’s Children’s Commissioner had been included in the drawing of this strategic plan, ” said SIS.
SIS added that the al-Azhar, considered by Sunni Muslims to be the highest authority of Islamic jurisprudence, issued a fatwa against child marriage in June this year.
“The fatwa explicitly states that the age of 18 marks the stage at which a woman can validly express her will to marry.
“Malaysia’s neighbours Thailand and Indonesia legally banned child marriage in December 2018 and September 2019 respectively.
“Other Muslim-majority countries that have banned child marriage are Egypt, Kenya, Pakistan, Iraq and Jordan.
”Sisters in Islam strongly reiterates our call that the minimum age of marriage must be raised to 18 years old for both boys and girls, Muslim and non-Muslims, with no exceptions, ” the NGO said.