Wednesday 17 July, 2019

Malaysia marriage between girl, 11 and man, 41 under investigation

Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister

Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister

Malaysian authorities are investigating the marriage between an 11-year-old Thai girl and a 41-year-old Malaysian Muslim that has sparked public outrage and calls for child brides to be banned.

Rubber scrap dealer Che Abdul Karim Che Abdul Hamid secretly married the girl as his third wife in Thailand.

The union became public after one of his wives lodged a complaint with police.

Muslim girls under the minimum legal marriage age of 16 can wed with the consent of the Shariah court and their parents. Muslim men in Malaysia can marry four wives.

Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail has said the marriage was not valid as the "consent of a child under twelve (12) years old is not a consent."

She spoke to reporters after meeting officials on Monday to discuss the issue.

 

Photos on social media showed the groom holding the girl's hand after the marriage ceremony.

Local media said Che Abdul Karim, who is also an imam in a rural village in northeast Kelantan state, already has two wives and six children aged between 5 and 18.

He told Bernama news agency that his marriage was lawful and approved by the girl's parents, who are poor rubber tappers in Malaysia.

He has said he will only formalise the marriage in Malaysia when the girl turns 16 and that she will stay with her parents until then.

The girl was also quoted as saying by local media that she doesn't understand the fuss over her marriage as she is in love with Che Abdul Karim.

Wan Azizah has told local media that officials are investigating if the parents approved the marriage due to poverty.

Activists have urged the government to raise the minimum age for marriage to 18.

The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia expressed concern that allowing child marriage in the name of religion might "provide cover for paedophiles and child sexual predators."

The National Human Rights Society said government data showed there were as many as 15-thousand Malaysian child brides in 2010 and called for laws to criminalise child marriage to protect minors.

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