‘They ham­per mi­nors from de­vel­op­ing po­ten­tial’

New Straits Times - - News -

WHILE mar­riages to mi­nors are le­gal, it is not en­cour­aged by the gov­ern­ment as it will ham­per the abil­ity of chil­dren to develop their po­ten­tial.

In a state­ment yes­ter­day, the Women, Fam­ily and Com­mu­nity De­vel­op­ment Min­istry said although such mar­riages were al­lowed un­der the law, they would pose chal­lenges to the chil­dren, phys­i­cally or men­tally.

The min­istry was com­ment­ing on a case in­volv­ing a 12-year-old girl, who mar­ried the man con­victed of rap­ing her in Sabah.

“The min­istry’s stand is that un­der­age mar­riages are not en­cour­aged be­cause they (mi­nors) should be given the op­por­tu­nity to develop their po­ten­tial.

“In this case, un­der­age mar­riages will lead to them feel­ing pres­sured in terms of phys­i­cal and men­tal, in­clud­ing the health, ed­u­ca­tion and fi­nan­cial as­pects of a child,” read the state­ment.

In the Sabah case, the rapist, 44, is serv­ing a 12-year jail term af­ter be­ing con­victed of rap­ing her in 2015.

Although chil­dren at 16 were al­lowed to get mar­ried, the min­istry stressed that mar­ry­ing the rape vic­tim would not pro­tect the rapist from the law.

“The sen­tence meted to the rapist in this case goes to show that the le­gal sys­tem is strong in pro­tect­ing vic­tims of crime, es­pe­cially chil­dren.”

Nev­er­the­less, the min­istry said it re­spected the de­ci­sion of the fam­ily of the vic­tim, now 16, to be mar­ried un­der ex­ist­ing laws.

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