A Muslim Dad Has Started An Online Petition To Ban Child Marriage In Malaysia
Reports on the marriage between a 41-year-old man and 11-year-old child in Gua Musang, Kelantan has sparked debate around the nation since 18 June.
The man, Che Abdul Karim Che Abdul Hamid, who already has two wives and six kids, has managed to keep the young girl, Ayu, as his bride because he said, "it is permissible in Islam".
On 1 July, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail addressed the issue, saying that although child marriage is illegal under the federal law, it is still considered legal under Islamic laws.
Dr Wan Azizah, who is also Women, Family, and Community Development Minister, added that Islamic laws state that children under 16 are allowed to get married, as long as the Syariah court judge allows it.
As a result, the nation's government is powerless to put a stop to their marriage.
However, she said that the government is working with National Fatwa Council to push the age limit for marriage up to 18.
Later on 10 July, it was reported that the man was found guilty by the Syariah court for marrying a minor without prior consent. He was charged a fine of RM1,800.
Outraged by the reports on the case, one Muslim father took matters into his hands by setting up a petition addressed to the government to end marriages for those below 18
As a father of three children himself, Umran Kadir was concerned about the issue.
Part of Kadir's statement in the petition read:
"There are those that seek to justify the state sanctioned rape of children by citing religious arguments. However, the reality is that there are no strong religious justifications permitting such a crime. In fact, all mainstream religions, including Islam, have schools of thought that either discourage or prohibit this terrible practice."
"To permit otherwise is not to permit 'child marriage'; instead, it is to permit the state sanctioned rape of children."
The petition has garnered more than 4,000 signatures since it was posted on 12 July. You can sign the petition here.