NGOs Slam Wan Azizah's Response To The Marriage Of 15-Year-Old Kelantanese Girl
Yesterday, 18 September, Minister of Women, Family, and Community Development Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail urged the public to be "empathetic" towards the Kelantanese family involved in the latest child marriage case
"I do have a problem with child marriages but I understand the predicament they (the Kelantanese family) are in," the Deputy Prime Minister was quoted as saying by Malay Mail.
"If you understand the way they live, their way of life, you would have a little bit of understanding of why it (child marriage) happens," she added.
Wan Azizah also claimed that it is not within Putrajaya's jurisdiction to act on the case of a 15-year-old girl being married to a man 29 years older than her.
"They were married under the Syariah Court. So you have to also abide by it because it is also state regulations," she was quoted as saying by theSun.
Sisters in Islam (SIS) called out Putrajaya's lack of political will to prosecute child marriage cases
Malaysiakini reported SIS as saying in a statement yesterday that Putrajaya has to stop using the excuse that it is "powerless" to prosecute child marriage cases.
In the statement, SIS added that the "normalisation" of child marriage also affects the future of girls in Malaysia.
"The more the government delays in acting against the issue, the more girls will fall victim to such marriages," the group warned.
Center for a Better Tomorrow (Cenbet) criticised the lack of law enforcement over child marriages in Malaysia
Cenbet vice-president Ng Yeen Seen was reported by Free Malaysia Today as saying that inaction by the government will only empower pedophiles in Malaysia.
"If we can allow parents to decide for their underage child and marry them away due to whatever justification, then what difference is there for us to also allow an regulate parents to marry off their babies to pedophiles?" she asked.
"If we have laws in the country to punish irresponsible parents who abuse their child of any age physically, why are we allowing parents to subject their young defenceless child to rape by marriage?" Ng added.
Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) called Wan Azizah's statement on the case a "license" to pedophiles in Malaysia to use marriage as a cover to dodge prosecution
LFL executive director Latheefa Koya joined in the criticism of Putrajaya's inaction over child marriages in Malaysia, claiming that pedophiles are now using marriage as a cover to avoid being prosecuted for rape or sexual grooming.
"This response from the DPM (Wan Azizah) will be a license for pedophiles around the country to groom, persuade, or coerce children into marriage for the purpose of having sexual intercourse with them," Latheefa was quoted as saying by Free Malaysia Today.
"What is clear now is that pedophiles are actively taking advantage of the failure of the DPM to take decisive action in the earlier case of the 11-year-old child bride," she added.
Malay Mail reported Latheefa as urging Wan Azizah to oversee an "immediate police investigation" into the 15-year-old bride's case to see if sexual grooming had taken place.