PETALING JAYA: The federal government has been urged to raise the legal age for marriage to 18 for all, while it looks into lowering the minimum voting age from 21 to 18.
Kasthuri Patto of DAP, who is Batu Kawan MP, said fixing the age for marriage would uphold the rights of children.
The current marriage age under civil law is 18, while shariah courts are empowered to allow Muslim marriages at 16 or younger.
“In light of lowering the voting age, I look forward also to the Pakatan Harapan leadership cementing the age of marriage to a minimum of 18, with no exceptions for boys and girls, regardless of race or religion,” she said today.
Last year, Pakatan Harapan’s women’s wing called for the minimum age of marriage to be raised to 18 for both boys and girls.
Kasthuri said Malaysia had a moral duty to put its foot down against child marriage, as a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Malaysian civil law sets the minimum marriage age at 18, but powers vested in the shariah courts allow young Muslims to marry at 16 or even younger.
Under civil law, a child could get married at 16 with the permission of the chief minister or menteri besar.
Kasthuri said child marriages were a human rights violation. Young girls might suffer health complications during pregnancy, were more likely to suffer domestic violence, and would be unlikely to complete their education.
She said figures from the National Registration Department for 2011-2015 showed 2,104 cases of marriages among 16-year-old non-Muslim girls, of whom 680 married boys their age and 1,424 married men over the age of 21.
However, Syariah Judicial Department figures revealed that between 2005 and 2015, there were 10,240 cases of child marriages recorded, she said.
The federal government has indicated that the voting age might be lowered in light of the overwhelming interest shown by young Malaysians in the 14th general election.