KUALA LUMPUR, July 2 — Despite the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia’s (Suhakam) opposition to child marriage, one of its commissioners said there was nothing wrong with marrying an 11-year-old girl.
Nik Salida Suhaila Nik Saleh, one of Suhakam’s seven commissioners, said men who wanted to get married must be religious, knowledgeable, be self-sufficient, healthy, safe, have a career, and be responsible towards wife and child.
“Even if your wife is 11 years old, it’s fine. There are a lot of conditions in following the ‘sunnah’, not only because you’re a man!” Nik Salida Suhaila said in a public Facebook post.
“Sunnah” are Prophet Muhammad’s practices which Muslims are encouraged to follow.
Nik Salida Suhaila, who is also an associate professor in Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia’s faculty of shariah and law, said marriage was a bond between man and woman to build a household according to the Quran and Sunnah.
“It is not one’s right borne out of the heart’s desires. It is not a limitless right. It is subject to whether the purpose of marriage can be fulfilled — no torture or oppression against any party, the husband’s and wife’s responsibilities are carried out, God’s orders and prohibitions are obeyed, it doesn’t harm society, and doesn’t defame religion,” she wrote.
In a statement yesterday, Suhakam expressed concern that paedophilia could be legalised in child marriages approved by Shariah courts or state chief ministers.
The commission said there was no justification for child marriage and that religious practices must not supersede child rights.
The marriage of a 41-year-old Kelantanese man to an 11-year-old Thai girl, his third wife, in southern Thailand last month has sparked public outrage.
A Facebook user named Ahmad Kamarul, who commented on Nik Salida Suhaila’s post, said the girl “biologically looked like a 16-year-old teenager.”
“That was the result of my investigation with JKM (Social Welfare Department) this morning. So many things have gone viral and people are criticising it as though this happened in our country and involved our citizens, even though this kid and her family are Thai foreigners who are not bound by our laws,” he said.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail reportedly said the marriage was unlawful as the court did not approve it, but the Kelantanese man named Che Abdul Karim Che Abdul Hamid claimed that his bride’s parents had consented to their marriage.
He also said the 11-year-old girl would stay with her parents until she turned 16.
* Nik Salida Suhaila's Facebook post is no longer available to the public .