PARLIAMENT | Efforts are being made to streamline all the country's laws to set the minimum marriage age at 18 years.
Deputy Prime Minister, Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said the measure was being formulated and would be implemented as a long-term solution to curbing underage marriage in Malaysia.
The Women, Family and Community Development Minister said it would be implemented through the involvement of the Minister in the Prime Minister's Department for Islamic Affairs, Home Ministry and state governments including Sabah and Sarawak.
The initiative involves streamlining laws such as the Islamic Family Law (Federal Territory) Act 1984, Islamic Family Enactment and Ordinance in the states, Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976, Native Courts Enactment 1992 in Sabah and various laws governing Sarawak indigenous communities, she said during the question-and-answer session at the Dewan Rakyat today.
Wan Azizah was replying to a question by Maria Chin Abdullah (PH-Petaling Jaya) who asked about laws that protect children and youths from being exploited as well as the efforts made to ensure they are adhered to by courts in each state.
Wan Azizah said to factor in local customs and cultures, consultations would be held with experts including paediatricians, cultural specialists and syariah experts in setting the minimum age.
Currently, under the existing laws, those such as the Islamic Family Law (Federal Territories) Act 1984 and the Islamic Family Law Enactment / Ordinance, underage marriage applications require the permission of a syariah court judge (for Muslims) or a chief minister (for non-Muslims).
Also related to this is the Natives Court Enactment 1992 in Sabah.
Wan Azizah also expressed her appreciation to the Selangor and Sarawak state governments which recently to set the minimum marriage age in each state at 18 years and she said she hopes this would be followed by the other states.
She said based on the Malaysian Syariah Judiciary Department’s figures, there were 5,362 marriage applications involving underage Muslims between 2013 and 2017.
As for non-Muslims under 18, there were 2,367 applications for marriage during the same period, she said.