Terengganu child marriage numbers alarm SIS

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Sisters in Islam (SIS) is alarmed by claims made by Terengganu Sharia Court chief judge Wan Mohd Zakri today that there were 444 applications for underage marriages from 2013 to 2018 in the state, 397 of which were approved.

According to the Terengganu Sharia Court Department, the applications involved 522 children. SIS is extremely concerned that these numbers tell us that at least 125 underage marriages in the state involved marriages to spouses who are much older in age.

This number is clear evidence that injustice and abuse is being perpetuated in the state.

We are also worried that more than half of the approved applicants were below the age of 15, with up to 10 applications at the age of 13 approved.

Where reasons for marriage is concerned, we are surprised that the department had approved applications simply on the basis that the couple were “in love” and that the child “wanted” to marry (totaling 252 applications).

We strongly believe that the court has an obligation to ensure that the needs, rather than the wants, of the child are prioritized, and the primary need for all children should be education.

We are also alarmed that 20 applications were approved to alleviate the “burden of the family”, 11 applications were approved because the child had dropped out of school and experienced personal issues and one application was approved because of rape. These cases indicate that the child may have been forced into marriage and is unwillingly exposed to harm.

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The chief judge also claimed that 72 applications were approved because of pregnancy out of wedlock and that 39 applications were approved on the basis that the child had previously had sex.

We find this to be a dangerous trend as it sidelines the serious issue that sex (consensual or not) with an underage child is considered a statutory rape crime in our country, and that the adult perpetrator is allowed to bypass the law simply by marrying his victim.

It is important that the court protects children who are unable to understand the meaning of consent and the harm associated with sex, especially when coaxed by a much older person.

SIS is dismayed that Terengganu’s chief Sharia judge intends to allow underage marriages to continue in the state despite clear evidence of harm and danger to the child.

We strongly urge the Terengganu Sharia Court Department to prioritise both the education and protection of children by raising the age of marriage for all children in the state to 18 years with no exceptions.

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Tony Tan CLJames ThamJohan Khun PanaRajan SubramaniamAngel Fernz Recent comment authors
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Tony Tan CL

What ever reasons to justify the marriage, it is unjust to the child who does not understand the institution and responsibilities in a marriage. Anyone has any statistics how many of them were divorce after a few years of marriage?

James Tham

Some preach heaven and hell everyday….so one wonders…is the situation …one of heaven or hell ?

Johan Khun Pana
Johan Khun Pana

Child rapist? Sharia law? Dropped out from school? Poor ? Well, whatever it is do bear in mind that Malaysia is still a Third Word country.
By simply having a “new government” does not change the equation.
Who would have thought that a lady DPM is on the side of the pedophiles?
The govt is Legalizing Statutory Rape .
Truly Third World country.

Tony Tan CL

So sad such authority given to the Sharia court and the federal government can do nothing! Can the sultans do something????

Rajan Subramaniam

While I spoke to my mate from that state, she mentioned it’s… It’s because too many kids at home and parents inability to educate them.. The elders tends to drop out of school to take care the smaller ones… No emphasis given to upgrade the girls… And subsequently parents decide to get her married before she gets herself pregnant or other social problems. And the cycle continues.. So tap the root cause – too many kids… Can’t effort don’t hv many kids…

Angel Fernz

Shameful! The Federal government should do something to stop this. Sharia law does not supersede civil law.

Bennie Goh

Child rapist