KUALA LUMPUR, July 31 ― The Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Mais) announced today that it will move to raise the minimum marriage age for Muslim women to 18 from the previous 16, making it uniform for both genders.
It said it will propose an amendment to its Islamic Family Law (Selangor) Enactment 2003 in the state assembly as soon as possible, following discussions with the Selangor Shariah Judiciary Department, and the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais).
However, in the statement, Mais did not mention about amending the requirement which would allow Shariah judges to give the green light to child marriages under certain circumstances, under Section 8 of the Enactment.
Instead, it said it has agreed to make the requirements for marrying a child stricter to safeguard the child’s interest and prevent harm, rather than abolishing child marriage altogether.
The proposed requirements were for the children to attend special sessions on family, counselling by the Welfare Department, and have health checks carried out by a medical officer before they are married.
A judge deciding on the child marriage would also be required to review the applicant’s economic status, crime record, and statements from relevant parties.
“It is Mais’ desire that the law amendments is to ensure the future of children is the main focus and as main consideration for the judge to decide on application involving marriage to a minor,” it said in a statement.
The decision followed public uproar over a 41-year-old rubber trader’s marriage to an 11-year-old girl whom he had groomed since she was seven, in Kelantan.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said earlier today that the Attorney General Chambers needs more evidence before charging the man under the Sexual Offences Against Children Act 2017.
Dr Wan Azizah’s deputy minister in the women’s ministry Hannah Yeoh had previously told Malay Mail that a total of 10,807 child marriages were registered for Muslims between 2007 and 2017.