KUCHING, July 1: The Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) today warned of possible ‘legal’ paedophilia activity in Malaysia after the recent marriage of a 11-year-old girl to a 41-year old man in Kelantan.
Its chairman, Tan Sri Razali Ismail, said Suhakam was troubled of that possibility because Syariah Court judges, state chief ministers or ministers were empowered to allow such marriages.
“Suhakam calls on Syariah Court judges and authorities who continue to consent to child marriage to stop doing so and they must be held accountable for perpetuating this egregious practice.
“In Malaysia, a marriage between an adult and child, with the consent of the above people, must stop. 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,” he said in a statement today.
This will further encourage sexual violence against children, he cautioned.
Suhakam also lamented that not enough had been done to end child marriages in Malaysia and believes zero tolerance of child marriage must be enforced at every root of society.
“We reiterate that there is no justification to child marriage and stands firm that where religious practices are concerned, they must not supersede the fundamental rights of a child. The best interest of the child must still prevail.”
Suhakam also called on the new government to take a principled position on this issue and to keep to its election promise (commitment no. 4: special commitments for women) to all Malaysians to set the legal minimum age of marriage to 18 for all persons.
“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.
“In the meantime, we recommend that the government and state religious bodies, including Jabatan Kemajuan Islam Malaysia (Jakim), take active steps to inform the public about the detriments associated with underage marriages, with the authorities, particularly the Ministry of Women, Children and Community Development, responding more diligently to the issue.” — DayakDaily