Not Our Girls
It’ s 2018— why are we still dealing with
Every year, more than 12 million girls are married before t he age of 18 worldwide. According to UNICEF, if t he current rate holds , 14.2 million girls annually will be married too young. While child marriage is prevalent t he world over, and has a dark history herein Malaysia, the issue was sparked once again when news broke t hat a middle - aged man married an 11- year- old child. On June 30 2018, Star Online reported of such a union when 41- year-old Che Abdul Karim Che Abdul Hamid took 11- year- old Ayu as his third wife in Golok , Thailand.
Within hours, there was a deluge of reporting and outrage on social media platforms and online news sites regarding the news of the married couple. The idea of am an marrying a child is enough to send everyone into ar age. There are developments, policies, protection of the rights of children( just last year in March 2017, the Malaysian Parliament passed t he Sexual Offences Against Children Bill 2017). But it’ s a practice still happening in our country, and pedophiles are taking advantage of legal loop holes. We investigate the dark truths of child marriage.
THE HARROWING REALITY
Many f actors contribute to child marriage, such as poverty, lack of education, and cultural practices. Child marriage is the formal( or informal) marriage of a child under the age of 18( regardless of gender ). In the past, many communities where child marriage is practised, girls were not “valued ” as much as boys were, so little girls were seen as burdens to their families. The solution was to marry off daughters as early as possible to ease economic hardship — by“transferring” the burden of their daughter to her husband’ s family.
According to Girls Not Brides , 12 million girls are married off before the age of 18 each year—that accounts for more than 32,000 girls a day, and almost
According to Girls Not Brides, 12 million girls are married off before the age of 18 each year.
23 girls a minute worldwide. In 2010, the Ministry for Women revealed that nearly 15,000 girls in Malaysia that were below the age of 15 were married, while 82,0 00 girls were married between t he ages of 15 and 19.
According to Child Rights and You, child marriage has a serious negative impact on the child’ s life. While the Convention on the Rights of the Child has been ratified by most countries around the world, most of these rights are abused by the practice of child marriage. Not only is it acquiesced pedophilia, child marriage means that the child is denied the right to an education, the right tore stand leisure, the right to protection from mental and physical abuse. The child is then subjected to early motherhood. According to Advocates For Youth, adolescents age 15 through 19 are twice as likely to die during pregnancy or child birth, while girls under the age of 15 are five times more likely to die.
LOOPHOLE FOR PEDOPHILES
According to the Age of Majority Act 1971, the age of majority is 18; anyone below that is considered a minor. The requirements f or marriage in Malaysia under the Law Reform ( Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976 states that the individual must be of 18 years old in order to be eligible for marriage.
If the person is below 21 years but above 18 years, they will need their parents’ consent through the Written Consent To The Marriage For One Who Has Not Completed 21 Years Of Age. If the person has not received the consent but wishes to proceed, they will need to apply to the High Court for consent of the court. Females who are 16, and below 18, are able to marry but only if they are able to obtain a special marriage license granted by the Chief Minister.
But here’s the kicker, Malaysia has a dual legal system which means that the minimum age of marriage can be determined by civil l aw or Syariah (Islamic) Law. The minimum age of marriage for Muslim girls is 16 and 18 for boys. Anyone below that age can still wed as long as they obtain the Islamic Court ’ s consent. The reality of these legal loop holes mean that
child marriages are r ecognised by l aw. There’s an in consistency here—how does this fit in with other laws that protect the child against sexual of fences? It violates a number of our fundamental rights enshrined in the Federal Constitution: the right to live with self-dignity( article 5), right to equal treatment and non-discrimination( article 8) and right to freedom of expression( article 10). On the topic, CLEO reached out Protect and Save The Children (P. S. The Children ), and its President Datin Che Nariza Hajjar Hashim had t his to say :
“P. S. The Children is very disturbed by t he news [about the 41- year old adult marrying an 11- year old girl ]. We find this unacceptable and imp lore the government tour gently step in and take concrete actions towards raising t he age of marriage to 18 years, and do a thorough review of the child protection system in Malaysia. P. S. the Children is a par t of a coalition of NGOs willing to work with t he government to improve child rights and protection in Malaysia. We hope to do more for all children, who are, after all, our future .”
END CHILD MARRIAGE
The Joint Action Group f or Gender Equality( J AG ), which comprises of All Women’ s Action Society, Association of Women Lawyers, Justice for Sisters, Per a kW om en for Women, Per satuanKe se daranKomiu ni ti Selangor, Sisters in I slam, Women’s Aid Organisation and t he Women’s Centre for Change; said that the same marriage between 11- year- old Ayu and 41- year- old Che violates Articles 3 and 24 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child which outlined that the interest of the child be the primary consideration inactions by authorities.
To do your part, sign a petition on change.org, and stay updated with the # end child marriage hashtag on your social media. If you witness anything or have your suspicions about it, do not keep quiet. Approach local newspaper, write about it on Facebook( with details and the hash tag ), talk to JAG, and get in contact with UNICEF Malaysia. The longer we keep silent about this, the longer the problem stays.
Wanted: A world where girls aren’t backed into a corner