GOMBAK: A bill to prohibit child marriage is in the works and will be tabled in Parliament by the end of the year, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa today.
The minister in charge of religious affairs said the bill may involve the enactment of a new law or amendments to existing legislation.
He also said the bill will be drafted based on a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) that was created following his discussions with experienced Syariah judges and non-governmental organisations.
“The child protection act so far seems to be very relevant in curbing future child marriages.
“It is not only important but vital to make sure that in the future, there are no more cases of children below 16 marrying a person who is much older.
“The SOP for such marriages has been tightened and no girls younger than 16 will be allowed to get married.
“Those who intend to get married must fulfil a list of requirements related to their education, family background and medical report, among others,” he said adding that Syariah courts in several states have begun applying the SOP.
He said this to reporters after attending an Islamic International University event here last night.
On Sept 18, the New Straits Times Press reported another case of child marriage in Kelantan involving a 15-year-old girl, who tied the knot with a 44-year-old man.
The first case of underage marriage which drew uproar from rights groups was in July, when a Malaysian rubber trader married an 11-year-old girl from Thailand at a mosque in Kampung Padang Nyor, Sungai Golok, on June 18.
On July 22, another case, this time involving the marriage between a 19-year-old from Terengganu and a 13-year-old girl from Kelantan, made headlines.
Mujahid said so far, the new SOP set up by the Syariah Judiciary Department was well received by the Syariah courts in Selangor and the Federal Territories.
Mujahid added that a comprehensive draft bill will be presented to the Parliament before the end of this year.
”Financial constraints and similar excuses will no longer be accepted or allowed because such marriages are a form of exploitation.
“We don’t want these young children, girls and boys to be sex victims who end up being forced into a marriage,” he said.
According to the Islamic Family Law Enactment, the minimum legal age for marriage is 18 for a male and 16 for a female.
Those under the legal minimum age will be permitted to get married only if they had the consent of their parents and the Syariah court.