Deal with Kelantan on child marriage, SIS urges Putrajaya

Sisters in Islam says the practice of child marriage robs children of the opportunity for a better life.

PETALING JAYA: Women’s rights group Sisters in Islam (SIS) today urged the federal government to engage with the Kelantan state government in raising the legal age for marriage to 18.

The group said the National Strategic Plan for Addressing the Causes of Underage Marriage by the women, family and community development ministry had set out a five-year plan to ensure that state-level laws, rules and guidelines are in line with federal policies.

This plan had stated that obstacles in raising the minimum age of marriage will be addressed in all the states.

Sisters In Islam made its comment after a deputy minister had said that the federal government would not intervene in Kelantan’s decision not to raise the marriage age.

The group said: “Moving forward, the ministry must work out how it will engage Kelantan and all other states in this matter.”

SIS added that the minister and deputy minister of religious affairs in the Prime Minister’s Department must support the women’s ministry in their efforts to end child marriage.

“The practice of child marriage in Malaysia is untenable, violates the rights of children and robs them of the opportunity for a better life in the future.”

Earlier today, deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Fuziah Salleh, said the women’s ministry had decided it would not intervene in the Kelantan government’s decision.

However, she said the state government must abide by the law, especially on the appointment of High Court judges as the decision-maker on any marriage applications. These judges will be able to reject any marriage applications that do not comply with the stipulated rules.