Over 1,000 underage marriage applications in 2015

Rohani Abdul Karim

KUALA LUMPUR: There were 827 applications for marriage below 16 years old from the Muslim community last year, said Women, Family and Community Development Minister Rohani Abdul Karim.

She said the Sarawak Council for Native Customs and Traditions recorded 294 such marriages for the same year.

“Such marriages for non-Muslims are void under the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976,” she said in a written reply at the Dewan Rakyat here today.

She was replying to a question by Teo Nie Ching (DAP-Kulai) on the number of marriages involving Malaysians aged under 16.

Teo also wanted the Women Family and Community Development Ministry (KPWKM) to state the measures taken to ban child marriages as Malaysia had accepted a UN resolution to ban child marriages in October 2013.

Rohani said in Malaysia, marriage laws were under family laws and administered separately for Muslims and non-Muslims.

“Muslim marriage is administered under the Islamic Family Law (Federal Territories) Enactment 1984 and the Islamic Family Law Enactment in the states. These provide for marriages under the age of 16 after approval is obtained from the Shariah Court.

“For non-Muslims, Section 10 of the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976 provides for the minimum age for marriage at 18.”

However, she said a girl aged 16 could marry with the approval of the Chief Minister.

She said the marriage customs were implemented and registered under the respective pribumi customs in Sarawak and the Native Courts Enactment 1992 in Sabah.

Meanwhile, Rohani said KPWKM had taken the stand that children should be given the opportunity to realise their full potential.

As such, she said, several measures were taken to combat underage marriage, including creating a National Policy in Reproductive Health and Social Education, setting up the underage marriage task force as well as [email protected] teenager centres throughout the country to provide information on psychosocial issues and counselling.