COMMENT | A few days ago, our newly formed Pakatan Harapan government admitted that it is powerless to nullify child marriages as they are valid under Islamic law.
However, recognising the public outcry over the recent marriage of a 41-year-old man to an 11-year-old girl, the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry has come up with a standard operating procedure to be followed by the Syariah Court.
In other words, instead of putting a stop to child marriages, the government is merely providing a system meant to be used by the Syariah Court as guidelines in dealing with child marriages.
I don't know about you, but this sounds like déjà vu to me.
You see, when Rohani Abdul Karim was leading the ministry before Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, she made a similar statement.
Rohani stated that her ministry and the (then) government did not condone the practice of child marriage, but accepted that it was allowed under the country’s syariah legal system.
Rohani said this when revealing to the parliament back in 2016 that the Malaysian syariah court system received a total of 10,240 applications from Muslims for permission to marry minors between 2005 and 2015, with 827 child marriages in the year 2015 alone.
I guess we can conclude that in matters concerning child marriage, Wan Azizah and the current government is no different than Rohani and the previous government. Both made a lot of hoo-ha but their actions do not measure up to their mouths.
This goes to demonstrate that beyond the concern highlighted by our politicians, there is neither solid intention nor effort to end child marriage in Malaysia.
Why, you ask?...