Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Can children marry?

By Ding Jo-Ann

"If the syariah court grants the marriage, there is no reason for anyone, not even the civil courts, to question the sanctity of the marriage."

SELANGOR mufti Datuk Mohd Tamyes Abdul Wahid, stating that syariah courts could hear applications to approve marriages involving Muslim girls under 16. Currently, Islamic family law allows girls 16 and above, and boys 18 and above to marry. However, the syariah court can give permission for younger children to marry.

Tamyes said the conditions for Muslim marriages differed from that of non-Muslims, and that the syariah courts would protect the interests of minors in marriages. Tamyes also said chances of approvals for under-16s to marry were slim, and that applicants would have to meet strict criteria to prove they were capable of building a solid and lasting marriage. (Source: 'Get syariah court's okay on child marriages', New Straits Times, 20 Mar 2010)

"We have had some parents requesting to marry off their 16-year-old daughters. We allowed a few as we found that the girls were physically and mentally prepared to start a married life.

"Some girls, even at the age of 16, look frail. We will disallow the marriage as she may not be able to handle the burden of pregnancy and marital duties."

Chief Syariah Judge and Malaysian Syariah Judiciary Department director-general Tan Sri Ibrahim Lembut, commenting on child marriages. Ibrahim warned Muslim parents that they could be charged if they married their children off without the syariah court's permission. (Source: 'Get syariah court's okay on child marriages', New Straits Times, 20 Mar 2010)

"There is no need to amend the law.

"The law already exists ... marrying someone aged 16 and below requires the consent of the court. The court does not simply grant the consent."

Datuk Jamil Khir Baharom, minister in the prime minister's department in charge of religious affairs, denying any need to amend the law to make it illegal for under-18s to marry. Jamil said maturity was subjective and not based solely on age. (Source: Underage marriage: No need to amend law, says minister, AFP as quoted on Malaysiakini, 16 Mar 2010)

"Sisters in Islam calls for an end to child marriage as it is an unacceptable practice in the present day and age. It is shocking that this practice still exists in a country like Malaysia because of a loophole in the Islamic Family Law and a continuing belief that Muslim girls can be married off once they reach puberty.

"The minimum age of marriage for Muslim girls must be raised to 18 to be in compliance with the Child Act, which defines children as those below the age of 18. The loophole in the Islamic Family law must also be closed to prevent marriages below the age of 18."

Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir on behalf of Sisters in Islam, condemning recent child marriages and calling for the law to be amended to make it illegal for under-18s to marry. (Source: Sisters in Islam calls for end to child marriage, Mysinchew.com, 12 Mar 2010)

"It is unacceptable that child marriages are allowed to take place. There is simply no justifiable reason for children to be given away to be married off ... These girls in the Kelantan cases were children. Surely that is wrong by any civilised standard. They are victims of a very sick practice.

"Let's put an end to child marriages because they are a violation of the rights and a clear form of abuse of our children. It's as simple as that."

Columnist Nuraina Samad, calling for an end to child marriages. (Source: No place for child marriages here, New Straits Times, 20 Mar 2010)

"'Child' means a person under the age of [18] years."

Malaysian Child Act 2001.

"When [children are] pushed into marriage, they are pushed into early pregnancy."

The United Nations' Children's Fund spokesperson Naseem ur-Rehman in Yemen, commenting on the death in childbirth of a 12-year-old girl, who had been married at a young age. The girl was in labour for three days before bleeding to death. (Source: Yemeni government defends efforts to end girls' marriages, CNN, 16 Sept 2009)

"Millions of young girls in the developing world are married when they are still children, and as a result are denied the ordinary experiences that young people elsewhere take for granted: schooling, good health, economic opportunities and friendship with peers.

"Nearly all of the world's nations have concurred repeatedly that childhood — with the ongoing investment in the young person that the notion implies — should last until age 18."

Report by the International Centre for Research on Women. (Source: Too young to wed the lives, rights and health of young married girls, International Center for Research on Women, 2003) . Courtesy of Nut Graph

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