Azalina: Focus on sexual crimes, not child marriage

azalina-childsexualcrimeKUALA LUMPUR: MPs will be able to propose amendments once the new law the government is drafting to combat sexual crimes against children is tabled in the Dewan Rakyat.

But the focus should be on sexual crime, not on other issues such as child marriage, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Azalina Othman.

She was responding to a call from Kulai MP Teo Nie Ching urging the government to include a ban on child marriage in the new law.

“In my opinion, we should look at what the criminal elements are today. This law is more for the criminal element,” she told reporters here at the closing ceremony of a two-day national seminar on child sexual crimes.

Teo, in a statement, had cited government statistics which revealed that 15,000 girls aged below 15 got married in 2010. The age of consent is 16.

Teo had also claimed that despite the opposition’s request to participate in the drafting of the new law, they had been kept in the dark.

Azalina, in response, said both Barisan Nasional and opposition MPs would be briefed on the new law once it was tabled in the Dewan Rakyat for the first reading, Malaysiakini reported.

“We will call both groups, BN and opposition MPs, for a briefing and discussion the bill.”

The Child Sexual Crimes Bill is expected to be tabled for the first and second readings in the current parliament sitting.