Monday, March 15, 2010

Child marriage : 'My daughter was bewitched', claims mother of 11 year old girl

The mother of a young girl who allegedly married a 41-year-old man claimed her daughter was 'bewitched' by the man, believed to belong to a deviant religious group.

Siti Sarnan Mat Ali, 42, alleged that her daughter, Siti Nur Zubaidah, was abducted by the man last month.

She said the man, who already has four wives and six children, approached her husband on Feb 19 and convinced him to send the girl to a religious school in Wakaf Baru.

“My husband came back that night and told me to cook lunch the next day as there would be visitors coming to our house in Pasir Mas.

Siti Sarnan (clasping her hands to her head) is consoled by Shahrizat as she faces a hoarde of newsmen to relate the ordeal of her young daughter.
Nine men came to our house with the man. My daughter was devastated when she learnt that her father had agreed to send her away. She refused to go but relented after my husband persuaded her,” Siti Sarnan said.

Girl was in a dazed state whhen found

"Siti Nur Zubaidah cried when my husband and the man took her away," adding that she objected. She relented as her husband, Hussin Mat Salleh, 54, was very persistent.

"I tried in vain to contact them for three days. When my husband returned three days later, he was in a state of confusion. By then, our daughter was missing," said Siti Sarnan

She said a police report was lodged on Feb 21 after the man failed to return the girl as promised.

A Malay paper reported that that the young girl's so-called husband has since abandoned her and she was reportedly found in a dazed state on Friday outside theAl-Ikhwan Mosque in Taman Samudera, Gombak, Selangor.

She has been admitted to the Sungai Buloh Hospital for treatment and observation.

Siti Sarnan said her daughter is in a state of shock and traumatised by the ordeal.

Absent from school for three weeks

She said her daughter has refused to return to the family home and had asked, instead, that she be taken care of by an uncle in Tanah Merah.

"She had not been going to school for almost three weeks," said Siti Sarnan, adding that although Siti Nur Zubaidah was getting better, she was still in a daze.

She said a police report was lodged on Feb 21 after the man failed to return the girl as promised.

shahrizatSpeaking at the hospital Women, Family and Community Development Minister Shahrizat Abdul Jalil said: "The action of this man is irresponsible.

"After taking the girl from her family for two weeks, he left her alone (at the mosque) without any mercy.

"Its fortunate that the girl was saved," she told reporters on Sunday after visiting the girl, accompanied by Siti Sarnan.

Shahrizat said the girl told a doctor that she put up the night with the man at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur for two or three night after their "marriage" but they did not have sex.

Shahrizat asked the authorities concerned to probe into the teaching of the deviant sect, which had purportedly promised a passage to heaven to parents who marry off their underage daughters.

She said she has sent letters to Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail and Inspector-General of Police Musa Hassan to take speedy action on the matter.

Shahrizat said investigations should be carried out under the Penal Code or the Syariah Law for marrying off underage girls without permission from the authorities.

"We cannot keep quiet as children must be protected. The Welfare Services Department will provide the girl with counselling and medical help," added Shahrizat, saying that action must be taken to prevent a recurrent of such incident as two underage girls were said to have been married off by the sect.

Another child, aged 10, was reportedly married to a 40-year-old man in Pasir Mas.

Court and child's marriage status

in KOTA BARU, following the public outcry over the issue, Syariah Court said it is the only authority that can determine the child's marriage status.

Kelantan Syarie chief judge Daud Mohamad said the 11-year-old girl, her father and her alleged husband had to first be brought to court before the status of the marriage could be determined.

"The assumption made by the public on the case cannot be taken as grounds to determine their marriage status," he told Bernama here Monday.

Daud said those involved in the child's marriage could be charged as it is an offence under the Kelantan Muslim Family Enactment for a female below the age of 16 to marry without a written permission from the court.

Those found guilty of the offence could be fined up to RM1,000 or six months jail or both, he added. — Malaysian Mirror

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