Looks like Selangor is leading the way in imposing tighter regulations on underage marriages in Malaysia.
The Selangor Islamic Council (MAIS), along with two other Islamic bodies, are set to propose raising the marriageable age for Muslims to 18 to the state assembly soon.
In a statement released yesterday, 31 July, MAIS said that the decision to propose the amendments were made after a discussion with the Selangor Islamic Department (JAIS) and the Selangor Syariah Court Department.
The council plans to propose amendments to Selangor's Islamic Family Law Enactment 2003 which will adjust the minimum age limit of marriage from 16 to 18 years old for Muslim women.
In line with the proposed amendment, the minimum age of marriage for both Muslim women and men will be adjusted to 18 years old as well.
The discussion - which also involved experts from government agencies, medical professionals, universities, and NGOs - was prompted by decrees from the Sultan of Selangor following the now infamous child marriage case
In the statement, MAIS stressed that they take the concerns surrounding the 11-year-old girl's marriage to 41-year-old Che Abdul Karim seriously.
"Child marriage is not only rampant in this country but is also a global problem that must be holistically and effectively addressed," it said.
The council also outlined stricter conditions that must be met before an application for underage marriage can even be considered for approval:
(i) Judges will be required to order the child to undergo several Special Family Courses, attend counselling sessions with counsellors from the Social Welfare Department, and undergo medical examinations conducted by a medical officer at a government-owned hospital.
(ii) Judges will also be required to investigate the husband's economic status and past criminal records, if any.
(iii) Judges must summon and take statements from the prospective spouses as well as parents or any relevant parties from both sides before taking the application into consideration.
MAIS added that there will be other procedural requirements that may need to be updated or added to protect the interests of those who wish to marry before they turn 18.
MAIS said that the proposed amendments will be brought to the Selangor state assembly soon
"It is MAIS's wish that amendments to the law will ensure that the child's future is of importance and becomes the main focus for judges to consider when making any decisions regarding underage marriages," it added.
The council's proposed amendments are a welcome move for many quarters, with some hoping that other states will follow in Selangor's footsteps
It's been a month since news of the controversial marriage between the 41-year-old man and the 11-year-old first broke, but new revelations of their union continue to come to light: