Monday, March 15, 2010

Underage girls separated from husbands

Two girls, aged 10 and 11, who were wed to middle-aged men have been separated from their husbands as their cases are being investigated, said religious officials.

The girls were married off last month by their fathers, who said they were following religious edicts, said deputy head of Kelantan's religious department Mohd Abdul Aziz Mohammad Noor.

He said Samsudin Ajaib, who is also being investigated on suspicion of leading a religious cult, married 11-year-old Siti Nur Zubaidah and also gave away his 10-year-old daughter to a family friend.

"Both girls have now been separated from their husbands," Mohamad Abdul Aziz said.

He said that a religious syariah court had separated Samsudin's daughter from her husband while Siti's father had applied to the court to annul her marriage.

He said state religious authorities were also investigating Samsudin for his links to an alleged Islamic sect.

Treated in hospital

Islamic syariah law runs in parallel with civil law and Kelantan allows under-age marriages if religious officials give permission.

Siti's mother told a local English daily that shortly after the marriage, her daughter was found outside a mosque here and was now being treated in hospital.

"He asked for our daughter to be married to him as she would be put under his care while attending religious school," said Siti Sarnan Mat Ail.

She would not comment on whether the marriage was consummated, but said her daughter was in a state of shock and traumatised by the events.

Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil urged action against Samsudin and the religious sect, saying it promised "heavenly rewards" for child marriages.

Sisters in Islam has called for an end to child marriages, saying the practice continued in Malaysia because of a "belief that Muslim girls can be married off once they reach puberty”.


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