DAP: Child sex crimes bill must include child marriage ban

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PETALING JAYA: A new bill to address sexual crimes against children must include a ban on child marriages, DAP said today.

In a statement, DAP assistant national publicity secretary Teo Nie Ching applauded Prime Minister Najib Razak’s announcement of the bill, which will be tabled in the current session of Parliament.

However, she said, the party was in the dark over whether the bill would also address the issue of child marriage.

Last October she had requested Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Azalina Othman Said to include opposition MPs in the preparation of the bill but this was not done.

Teo said many opposition lawmakers had been campaigning for a more stringent and comprehensive law to address crimes against children. She said the war against sexual grooming was apolitical, and that opposition MPs should be included in consultations over the bill.

“There is no need to keep the opposition in the dark until the day the bill is tabled in Parliament.

“However, sad to say, until today we in the opposition are still clueless about the details of the bill, and we have no idea if child marriage will be covered in the bill.”

Although Section 376 of the Penal Code criminalised sexual intercourse with girls under the age of 16, Teo said, child marriages still occurred in Malaysia.

The Kulai MP referred to a 2010 United Nations report showing that over 82,000 married women in the country were girls between the ages of 15 and 19.

“Malaysia adopted a United Nations resolution to end child marriage at the Human Rights Council in October 2013. It’s time for our government to honour our pledge,” she said.