Official: Authorities will take pre-teen bride unless marriage is proven

Political secretary to the women, family and community development minister, Rodziah Ismail, speaks during a press conference in George Town July 3, 2018. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Political secretary to the women, family and community development minister, Rodziah Ismail, speaks during a press conference in George Town July 3, 2018. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

GEORGE TOWN, July 3 — The government will take full custody of an 11-year-old Thai girl allegedly wed by a 41-year-old man in Kelantan if the latter cannot produce documentary evidence of the marriage, Rodziah Ismail said today.

The political secretary of the women, family and community development ministry said authorities were now seeking proof of the controversial marriage between the man and the child.

“We have no records or evidence that the marriage took place, there is talk about it, but no proof and we are working with the Thailand government to get documentation and information on this,” she said.

She said the government is also working with Yala and Southern Thai authorities to try and learn where the man registered the marriage.

“Thailand also has strict child marriage laws so we want to find out whether it happened, whether it was registered,” she said.

She said if there is no officially registered marriage between the rubber tapper in Kelantan and the preteen, the government’s next step is to secure the child for her protection and to take action against the man.

“We will take over the custody of her, regardless of whether she is a citizen or not,” she said.

She added that they will also need to look at the well-being of the child’s family and the conditions of the village that could lead to such marriages.

As for the man, Che Abdul Karim Che Abdul Hamid, she said he would have to face laws against illegal marriage.

“We will give Karim time to come forward to provide evidence of the marriage,” she said.

She said all marriages, regardless of whether it was conducted in the country or outside the country, must be legally registered.

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