KUCHING, July 14: Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) National Woman vice-chief Voon Shiak Ni wants the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development to ban all child marriages.
She urged the ministry to table a Bill in the forthcoming Parliament sitting to ban such marriages instead of introducing a standard operating procedure (SOP).
“Honestly, to introduce an SOP for consent to be granted for child marriages under the purview of the Syariah Courts came as a shock to me.
“I strongly register my protest against this. It is more appropriate for the ministry to ban all child marriages once and for all,” Voon told a press conference here today.
She was referring to the recent marriage of an 11-year-old girl and a 41-year-old Malaysian Muslim man in Kelantan.
According to the Islamic Family Law Enactment, which applies to all states in the country, the minimum legal age for marriage is 18 for males and 16 for females. However, those below the age mentioned are permitted to get married with the consent of the Syariah Courts and parents.
“Child marriage has no place in this country. We must highlight this as it is not doing justice to the future of the affected child. A child is powerless to say ‘no’ as she is still a child and vulnerable,” said Voon.
She added that the measure to allow child marriage also meant stripping off the legal protection provided by the Penal Code for child rape and sexual abuses.
Voon, who is also a lawyer, cautioned that introducing an SOP to justify child marriages would put the ministry in a bad light. It is also not in line with the new government’s aspiration to uplift and improve the social and economic status of all women and girls in this country.
“There is already a huge public outcry from all walks of life and religious backgrounds against child marriages. People do not agree on the tightening measures by having an SOP. They want it completely banned,” she said.
She insisted there should not be any delay on this issue, noting that a Muslim father had even taken the bold step to start an online petition to urge the federal government to ban child marriage. — DayakDaily