The Women, Family and Community Development Ministry (KPWKM) is working together with the Religious Affairs Minister at the Prime Minister’s Department, Mujahid Yusof Rawa, to raise the minimum legal age for marriage in all relevant laws to 18 years old.
The ministry said this would involve the Islamic Family Law (Federal Territory) Act 1984, Islamic Family Law Ordinance (Sarawak) 2001, Islamic Family Law Enactments of each state, Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976, and customary laws of ethnic groups in Sarawak.
It said the government also welcomed the timely announcement by the Selangor Islamic Religious Council on its suggestion to raise the minimum age for marriage for Muslim girls in the state to 18.
“It is hoped that similar initiatives are spearheaded by all states towards a standardised minimum age for marriage in Malaysia,” said KPWKM in a statement in Putrajaya today.
The ministry said the recent case of child marriage involving a 41-year-old man and an 11-year-old Thai girl in Kelantan had exposed the larger picture of thousands of child marriages across Malaysia.
“This is a systemic problem that needs a thorough root-cause analysis and permanent far-reaching solution,” it said.
KPWKM also reiterated its stance that it strongly opposed marriages involving young children, especially to an adult.
The ministry said these children have been deprived of the right to health, education, safety and overall personal development.
“Besides reforming the law and public policy, we must also educate parents on the negative impact of child marriage.
“We need to educate our society that these practices, be it based on culture or customs, are wrong and that education and training opportunities, not child marriage, will ensure a brighter future for our children,” said KPWKM.