Malaysiakini News

Contradicting reports of 11-year-old child bride’s whereabouts

Published:  |  Modified:

The fate of the 11-year-old child bride has been subject to contradicting reports with one claiming she is deep in the interior of Gua Musang while another says she has been sent home to Thailand.

The New Straits Times reported today that her 41-year-old husband Che Mohd Karim Che Hamid had moved her to a remote location in the jungle to “avoid public scrutiny”.

A report in today’s The Star Online, however, said that the Kelantan state government had on Wednesday (Aug 8) this week sent Ayu back to Narathiwat, South Thailand where she is now under the care of the Thai Social Development and Human Security Ministry.

Malaysiakini has contacted the ministry for comment.

In the New Straits Times report, Che Mohd Karim said he was left with little choice after people in their village began disturbing and hurling insults at his wife and her family.

The rubber trader also claimed that villagers had taken photographs of the girl and used them in messages sent over the WhatsApp platform.

“This is a big test for both of us.

“(She) now lives far away, deep in the jungle and I have to drive hours to reach (her). (But) I’m still strong. [...] My wife’s happiness and safety is my top priority right now.

“I am willing to travel (to the area) regularly to send food supplies and (pay for) daily expenses as long as she feels that someone loves her,” he told the daily.

The girl and her parents are Thai citizens who work as rubber tappers in Gua Musang. She is her husband’s third wife.

Not attending school

Che Mohd Karim further told the New Straits Times that his child bride had turned down his offer to place her in a tahfiz and was presently not attending any school.

“I will never give up. I will continue to conduct special prayers so that Allah will open her heart one day (and she will) accept my plan to send her to study at a religious school. She has no interest to go to a normal school,” he was quoted as saying.

The controversial marriage reportedly solemnised (above) at a mosque in southern Thailand on June 18, sparked public outcry after Che Mohd Karim’s second wife posted photographs of the couple on Facebook.

It was later revealed that the marriage had not received approval from Thai religious authorities. Che Mohd Karim was later fined RM1,800 by the Gua Musang Lower Syariah Court for marrying without obtaining approval and for entering into a polygamous marriage without consent.

Following the controversy, de facto Religious Affairs Minister Mujahid Yusof Rawa said the government will tighten provisions for child marriage in the syariah court and plans on drafting a new law to ban child marriage.

Syariah law allows girls under 16 and boys under 18 to marry. State syariah enactments stipulate that syariah judges must personally interview younger applicants to gauge their preparedness for marriage.

The Pakatan Harapan manifesto promised to raise the minimum age for marriage to 18 for both men and women.

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