Women’s minister told to make stand against child marriage

Zuraida-KamaruddinPETALING JAYA: Women, Family and Community Development Minister Rohani Abdul Karim has been urged to make a stand against child marriages after she reportedly defended Umno’s Tasek Gelugor MP Shabudin Yahaya on the issue he raised in the Dewan Rakyat on April 4.

PKR Wanita chief Zuraida Kamaruddin hit out at Rohani for saying she would not interfere in the matter, calling on her to change her portfolio or resign immediately if she does not want to speak out for affected children and women.

She said Rohani should make a clear stand to reject Shabudin’s assertion.

“Children are not physically nor spiritually ready for marriage, even if according to Shabudin, those between 9 and 12 years old may have bodies like an 18-years-old,” Zuraida, who is also MP for Ampang, said in a statement today.

“These words are absolutely shallow beyond description and if this is the quality of judges and MPs we have, then we have to ask ourselves why we keep voting for such leaders to represent us.”

The Star Online reported Rohani as remarking yesterday that Shabudin was merely drawing on his own experience as a former shariah court judge when addressing the issue and that it was “unfortunate” that his remarks had been taken out of context.

“Being a former Shariah court judge, he has encountered all these scenarios and was relaying his experience of handling such cases,” she was quoted as saying.

“He was not implying that a nine-year-old girl can get married, but rather, he was being detailed in his explanation,” she said. “He was being so detailed in his explanation to the extent that it got misunderstood.”

Shabudin was reported to have said in the Dewan Rakyat on April 4 that it was not wrong for a girl to get married to her rapist.

The former Penang State Islamic Council president reportedly said that marriage, even to her rapist, would be good for the girl as she would otherwise face a bleak future.

He also said some 16-year-old girls had “wild lifestyles” and their families found it hard to control them.

However, in a statement on April 5, Shabudin said he had been quoted out of context.

He said he was stressing that there was no provision in Islamic law that stopped under-aged victims from getting married. He also said the child could not be married off by her wali (guardian) without the permission of the shariah court.

Zuraida however claimed that Rohani had shocked the nation with her “callous remarks” towards Shabudin’s statement.

“Citing Shabudin’s experience as an ex-Shariah judge only means that Rohani respects Shabudin’s views on child marriages,” she said.

“Paedophilia is something that should be banned by all means and that is the reason why child marriages should never be allowed.

“Rape and child marriages are two different and wrong things,” she added.

Zuraida stressed that no child would want to marry her rapist and if her guardians gave permission for the rapist to marry the victim, then they should be punished for neglect, abandonment and failure to protect the child.

“Being raped is not the end of the world, but marrying off a child will deny the child of an education and a better future,” she added. “Marriage does not guarantee anything especially when there are so many cases of husbands not supporting the family.”

 

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