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Malaysia's Selangor religious council seeks to up marriage age

Aug 01. 2018
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By The Star
Asia News Network

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PETALING JAYA: Selangor’s Islamic religious authorities have called for tighter restrictions to underage marriage and the legal marrying age for girls to be raised from 16 to 18.

Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Mais) said the decision to endorse the changes came after an in-depth discussion that was decreed by Selangor Ruler Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah.

Besides the council, the talks also involved the Selangor Syariah Judiciary Department (Jakess), Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) and various relevant people like health experts, academics and NGOs.

“We have decided in unison to ask for an amendment to the Islamic Family Law (State of Selangor) Enactment 2003 to increase the marriageable age from 16 to 18 for girls,” Mais said in a statement yesterday.

The council also proposed that several mandatory criteria be met before underage marriages in the state are approved.

“Judges must get the child to attend a special family course and counselling by the Welfare Department as well as be examined by a government health officer.

“The judge will also look into the financial standing of the future husband and his criminal records, and record statements from him and the bride-to-be, their parents and relevant parties before deciding on approval,” said the statement.

Mais also said there are several procedural matters that will be improved to protect the interests of those who want to marry under the age of 18. The proposals will hopefully be brought to the state assembly soon, it added.

This development followed the public outcry over the recent marriage involving an 11-year-old girl from Narathiwat, Thailand, to a 41-year-old Malaysian man, who already has two wives and six children, in Gua Musang, Kelantan.

It also sparked the campaign #pelajarbukanpengantin (#schoolnotspouse) to end child marriage.

Last week, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Dr Mujahid Yusof said the government was drafting a standard operating procedure to tighten provisions relating to child marriage, with a view to banning the practice.

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