In response to the controversial marriage between a 41-year-old rubber tapper and an 11-year-old girl, Islamic Affairs Minister Datuk Mujahid Yusof Rawa confirmed that the government has initiated discussions towards putting an end to child marriages
The Parti Amanah Negara vice-president revealed yesterday, 18 July, that talks with Syariah judges have begun for a review of Islamic religious laws that currently allow minors to marry.
"Unfortunately, our laws permit a girl under 16 years old to marry by getting permission. For (underage) civil law (marriage), they can get permission from the menteri besar.
"We would like to protect our children from being exploited, especially if the marriage is justified in the name of Islam," he told Malaysiakini.
Mujahid did not give a time frame as to when the ban will take effect as the government needs to engage with stakeholders in both Islamic and civil law, as well as children's rights advocates
The Parit Buntar MP expressed his confidence that all relevant groups will act in the children's best interest.
"We already have a paper ready as far as the Syariah bit is concerned," he told Malay Mail, adding that, "It is about getting the technicalities right and dealing with the public perception on both sides."
The Islamic Affairs Minister acknowledged that since the government's goal is to find a long-term solution, child marriages might still continue for now
However, his department will be meeting with Syariah judges to look into tightening existing provisions in the meantime, Malay Mail reported.
Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Fuziah Salleh said that new stringent procedures would include physical, psychological and emotional health checks, as well as determining the reasons for marriage and the financial status of the child's parents.
"If a judge doesn't give his permission for an underage marriage according to the SOP, then the child cannot be married," she added, according to Free Malaysia Today.
To find out why Malaysia's legal framework has not been able to effectively criminalise child marriage, read here: