KUALA LUMPUR: The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) has called upon the Syariah court and authorities to stop giving consent to child marriage in the country.
This is in light of recent reports of marriage between an 11-year-old girl and 41-year-old man in Kelantan.
The commission also called upon the government to take action on the matter and to keep its 14th General-Election promises (Pakatan Harapan manifesto) under the special commitments for women that all Malaysians to set the legal minimum age of marriage to 18 for all persons.
Its chairman Tan Sri Razali Ismail said nothing had been done to end child marriages in the country and the authorities must be held accountable for perpetuating the egregious practice.
“Suhakam is troubled that possible paedophilia activity in Malaysia can be legalised where there is a marriage between an adult and child, with the consent of the Syariah court judge or state Chief Minister or Minister, further encouraging sexual violence against children.
“We are concerned that at present, religious justifications supported by law may be used to provide cover for paedophiles and child sexual predators who marry the children or victims.
“Suhakam does not think enough has been done to end child marriages and believes zero tolerance of child marriage must be enforced at every root of society,” he said in a statement issued today.
He said there is no justification to child marriage and the commission stands firm that where religious practices are concerned, one must not supersede the fundamental rights of a child and the best interest of the child must still prevail.
“Suhakam stresses that ending child marriage by 2030 is also among the targets set out in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that Malaysia has committed itself to.
“We also recommend that the government and state religious bodies including Islamic Development Department (JAKIM) take active steps to inform the public about the detriments associated with underage marriages, with the authorities, particularly the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry to respond more diligently to the issue,” he added.
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