KUCHING, July 6: The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) will not support the government’s proposal to create a standard operating procedure (SOP) to screen processes for marriage involving minors.
Suhakam chairman Tan Sri Razali Ismail said such a SOP would not be in the best interest of the child. It will, instead, perpetuate and preserve child marriages in the country.
“Suhakam emphasises that child marriage is a complete violation of a child’s human rights and maintains that child marriage must be made a crime as child marriage can be used to justify sex with a child,” Razali said in a statement today.
He also highlighted that child brides, incapable of consenting to sex, could also be raped in the act of consummation of the marriage.
Suhakam is also disappointed with Minister of Women, Children and Community Development Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, whom Razali said had failed to recognise these serious consequences and had continued to be ineffective in enforcing a minimum age for marriage at 18 despite the shocking number of child marriages in Malaysia.
“On the rights to freedom of religion, Suhakam would like to point out that religious practices are subject to Article 11(5) of the Federal Constitution, whereby any act contrary to any general law relating to public order, public health or morality shall not be authorised,” he said.
This meant that with political will, it was possible for child marriages to be criminalised at all levels in the country.
Razali also called on the ministry to be steadfast in the protection of children’s rights. He added that the government should stick to its election manifesto to introduce a law that sets 18 as the minimum age of marriage (commitment 4 “Special Commitments for Women”, page 140). — DayakDaily