‘I’m just 11 and you’re 41, but I’ll wait for you’

There is public outrage over this picture of a girl in a marriage ceremony with a man three times her age. (Facebook pic)

GUA MUSANG: The 11-year-old girl whose marriage to a 41-year-old rubber tapper from Kelantan sparked public outrage said she loved the man and was happy to marry him.

In an interview with Bernama, Masaryu Mat Rashid said she was willing to wait five years, the length of time the man said he would wait before they stay together as husband and wife.

Masaryu even said being the third wife of the man was not a problem, adding that her parents had consented to the arrangement.

“I accept whatever decision my parents and husband have made, to wait five years before we can live together because I realise that I am only 11 years old,” she said.

A photograph of their marriage ceremony, posted online, sparked outrage among Malaysians on social media, renewing a debate on underage marriage.

But Masaryu’s father, who is just eight years older than his daughter’s “husband”, is not perturbed.

He told Bernama that he knew well the man who lived in Kampung Lalang, Kuala Betis, Gua Musang.

He said the man often sold scrap rubber to him.

“He has promised me that he would register the marriage with the Islamic Affairs Department in Kelantan when Masaryu turns 16,” said Mat Rashid Rimadsa, a Thai citizen who lives in Gua Musang.

“At the moment, Masaryu is staying with me,” he said.

Despite the controversy, the Kelantan Islamic Affairs Department said it had not received any complaints about the marriage.

But its director Che Mohd Rahim Jusoh told Bernama that the girl’s marriage would be investigated as it must get permission of the shariah court.

“The law only allows a woman who is 18 years and older to marry without requiring the consent of the shariah court,” he said.

‘Nikah gantung’

Mat Rashid and his family, who are all Thai citizens work as rubber tappers.

He said one week before Hari Raya Aidilfitri, the man, who buys scrap rubber from villagers, asked his permission to marry the girl.

“I told him that my daughter was not old enough to be a wife as she was only 11 years old, but the man persisted and promised to ‘nikah gantung’, so I agreed,” he said.

“Nikah gantung” is practised by some Malays, where a marriage is only consumated after a period of time.

Rashid said he and wife Aminah Hitam accompanied their daughter to Sungai Golok, Thailand, to witness her marriage to the man.

“The man was willing to marry my daughter because he wanted to help me as I am poor and depend on the income I get tapping rubber,” he said.