KUALA LUMPUR, March 22 — The government has no plans to ban underage marriage, the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry said in a parliamentary reply this week.

Instead, the ministry helmed by Datuk Seri Rina Harun, who is from Bersatu, said that the government remains committed to curb the practice in the country by implementing programmes under the National Strategic Plan for Addressing the Causes of Underage Marriage.

“This is because the causes of underage marriage need to be addressed not only through

legislative change, but also through education, advocacy, health, the strengthening of family institutions, as well as socioeconomic support for the public.


“At the same time, the Steering Committee that has been established will continue to monitor implementation and development of the designed programme,” the ministry said in the written reply dated yesterday.

The reply was to Permatang Pauh MP Nurul Izzah Anwar, who had yesterday asked the government for the status of current plans to ban minors in Malaysia from marrying.

Nurul Izzah also wanted to know when the ministry would discuss the matter with the states Islamic Religious Councils since setting the minimum age for Muslim marriages falls under the purview of the respective states.


The ministry said the government agrees with Nurul Izzah's suggestion to have a discussion with the state councils.

It added that talks would be set up with the help of the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) and the Department of Syariah Judiciary Malaysia.

The ministry’s reply echoes the earlier statement given last December by Islamic Affairs Minister Datuk Idris Ahmad.

He had said that Jakim will not raise the legal marrying age for Muslims to 18 because it saw no “necessity” to do so as most states rejected the proposition.

The practice of child marriages has been a global concern in recent years and Malaysia has not been spared scrutiny.

In March last year, Unicef Malaysia noted an upwards trend in child marriages here during the Covid-19 pandemic, and attributed the increase to school closures, parental deaths and the families worsening financial situations.

Government data last year showed an average of 1,500 children in the country from various religions, ethnicities, and communities marry annually with girl brides making up 90 per cent.