PETALING JAYA: PAS has agreed in principle with a proposal by women leaders of Pakatan Harapan (PH) for the government to raise the legal marriage age of Muslims, whether male or female, to 18, calling it a reasonable idea.
Head of its ulama wing, Mahfodz Mohamed, said this was because those who got married when they were under 18 tended not to fully understand their rights and responsibilities as husband and wife.
He however said age should not be the only yardstick to determine the disadvantages a couple could have in marrying.
“If they are over 18 or 21 years and have not been taught about their responsibilities towards their family, and also have not undergone enough courses about household issues, it would still be of no use,” he said.
“Increasing the age limit for marriage itself is not enough if they have little appreciation of relationships within a family. They must be given knowledge about marriage before getting married,” he told FMT today.
Mahfodz was commenting on the call by women leaders of PH to raise the minimum age for marriage for Muslim women to 18, the same as that allowed for Muslim men.
At a press conference by the women leaders earlier, PKR Wanita chief Zuraida Kamaruddin questioned why the government currently allowed Muslim girls to get married at the age of 16.
“Why is this so?” she asked, adding that increasing the legal marriage age of Muslim girls would ensure a better marital life.
Mahfodz conceded there was not a big difference in the age limits of 16 and 18, and said further study was therefore needed to evaluate a person’s maturity in wanting to be married at such a young age.
“As head of the family, a male should be more mature and responsible, whereas a female should know her role within the family,” he said.
Under the Islamic Family Law Enactment in each state, the minimum age for men to get married is 18 and for women, 16.
Marriages involving those below the minimum age require the approval of the courts and the consent of the parents concerned.
For non-Muslims, the Law Reform (Marriage & Divorce) Act 1976 has set the minimum permissible age of marriage at 18, while those who are between 16 and 18 must get written approval from the chief minister and the courts.
The PH leaders’ stand was that under-age marriages could bring about negative effects on one’s mental and physical well-being, besides impeding educational and economic pursuits.
It would also heighten the risk of domestic and sexual abuse, the women leaders said.
Almost 9,000 under-age marriages were recorded in the five years from 2010 to 2015 in Malaysia. Of these, 6,268 involved Muslims and 2,775 those of other religions.