It’s not complicated, Latheefa tells Wan Azizah on child marriage

PETALING JAYA: PKR’s Latheefa Koya has again taken to task the party’s president and Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail over the marriage of a 41-year-old man to a 11-year-old girl in Kelantan, saying all facts of the case were clear and established for the government to take action against child marriage.

Latheefa, who heads rights group Lawyers for Liberty (LFL), said the facts of the case were not in dispute.

“The 41-year-old suspect has already admitted to lusting after this child since she was seven years old, has tried to contract a marriage with her and, most sickeningly, cohabited with the child.

“Why is Wan Azizah giving the excuse of ‘hearsay’ when the facts are well established and admitted to, even by the perpetrator?

“In any event, the issue of ‘hearsay’ does not arise at all because the investigators have had plenty of time to record statements from all concerned, including the perpetrator,” she said in a hard hitting statement against Wan Azizah, the second such statement from her accusing the women, family and community development minister of not taking a firm stand on the issue.

Wan Azizah told the Dewan Rakyat yesterday that a thorough investigation was being carried out into the matter.

She added that the issue had been discussed with the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) which said more evidence was required.

However, Latheefa said there was no complexity in the case as stated by Wan Azizah.

“The simple question for the purpose of prosecution is whether an act of sexual grooming took place upon this child.

“The facts above amount to the serious offence of sexual grooming under the Sexual Offences Act 2017.

“There is no reasonable excuse for failing to enforce the provisions of the Sexual Offences Act to the fullest extent in this shocking and obvious case.”

Adding that the case had become international news, Latheefa said Wan Azizah must not “dither and prevaricate in Parliament and leave Malaysia in the lurch”.

“It is also not an acceptable answer for Wan Azizah to simply pass the buck to the AG. She herself as the minister in charge must explain the reasons why no prosecution has been brought, as the AG is not in Parliament to do so.”

The marriage of rubber tapper Che Abdul Karim Che Abdul Hamid to Masaryu Mat Rashid had stirred a national controversy, with the girl’s parents giving their blessing to the union despite condemnation by human rights groups.

Karim said he would go ahead to formalise the marriage by applying for a marriage certificate after five years, when his “bride” turns 16, the minimum legal age for a female to marry under Malaysian Islamic laws.

 

Child marriage: We need water tight case, says Wan Azizah