Fatimah says Sarawak views child marriage issue seriously

Fatimah delivers her winding-up speech in the august House this afternoon. Screen grab taken from DUN CCTV feed.

KUCHING, July 16: The Ministry of Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development will soon discuss with relevant agencies on child marriages as this issue is of great concern to the state government and society in general, said its minister, Dato Sri Fatimah Abdullah.

“I would like to put on record our equal concern as this could be a result of teenage pregnancy and/or lead to it,” she told Irene Chang (DAP-Bukit Assek), who wanted to know what the state government would do to resolve this issue.

In her winding-up speech at the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) today, Fatimah stressed that children were vulnerable to all sorts of dangers, such as accidents, abductions, physical and emotional abuse as well as sexual abuse, which could leave permanent psychological marks on the victims.

She asserted that to ensure children and their rights were always protected, apart from law enforcement and community awareness, collaboration between various agencies was also important.

“With collaboration, for example, several child sexual abuse cases have been solved within a short period of time. For example the recent Bau and Kota Samarahan cases were solved within seven days,” she said.

On the issue of stateless children, Fatimah said the state Registration Department was continuing its efforts to identify and give proper identity documents to stateless rural folk.

One of the efforts was despatching its mobile units to the rural areas. Elected representatives and community leaders in these areas would then help those applying for birth certificates and MyKads.

“Statistics shows that from 2015 to May this year, 178 mobile unit operations have been carried out, and 7,329 applications were received.

“Out of that, 4,629 applications have been approved, 343 are still being processed, while 2,357 were rejected,” said Fatimah.

She, however, pointed out that the speed of the operation and approval decisions lay with the Home Affairs Ministry. — DayakDaily