The 11-year-old Thai girl who was married off to a man 30 years her senior should immediately be separated from him as he poses a physical and emotional threat to her, said the Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) today.
In a statement, JAG also expressed outrage over the insistence by Deputy Prime Minister and Women, Family and Community Development Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail that further investigation was needed to gather evidence in order to charge the 41-year-old suspect.
"This insistence clearly reflects a lack of political will to take action against the man and protect the child bride.
"The mounting evidence is, in fact, more than sufficient and there must be no excuses for the authorities' failure to act," said the group.
The group cited the confession from the man that he had planned to marry the girl since she was seven which it said was tantamount to child sexual grooming - an offence under the Sexual Offences Against Children Act (SOAC) 2017.
"The 'marriage' also does not fulfil Section 23 of the Kelantanese Islamic Family Law Enactment 2002, as required by “Hukum Syarak”. The second wife of the man has publicly shared that the man has not been able to provide for their family, and has unfairly favoured his third wife over his previous wives.
"The marriage certificate produced by the Thai authorities has also been found to be fake. Swift action must be taken to ensure that further manipulation does not happen to validate the marriage," said JAG.
JAG is a coalition of 13 women's rights organisations in Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah, and Sarawak comprising of, among others, the All Women's Action Society (Awam), Sisters in Islam (SIS) and the Women's Aid Organisation (WAO).
The group further expressed concern about the girl's continued exposure to the man despite the widespread backlash and multiple police reports lodged.
"Should there be any signs of grooming, violations and abuse, the relevant ministries and departments must move swiftly to ensure that they are accordingly addressed and are not covered up, whether the marriage is deemed legal or not.
"Moreover, police reports made by the man’s second wife has fallen on deaf ears. It is important that the authorities act in consideration of all affected parties," said JAG, urging for the girl to be immediately separated from the man, regardless of her nationality.