A 41-year-old Malaysian Muslim married an 11-year-old Thai girl and now Malaysian authorities are investigating if their marriage is legal. Actually, in Malaysia, Muslim girls under the minimum legal marriage age of 16 can wed with the consent of the Sharia court and their parent. On the other hand, Muslim men in Malaysia can marry four wives. That case has sparked outrage in the Muslim-majority country with one activist on Sunday labeling the groom a child predator.
…the country’s women and families ministry said there was no record of religious authorities approving the union, which took place last month across the border in Thailand’s largely Muslim far south.
“Our officers have gone to the house and met the girl’s mother. We are waiting for more reports before deciding on the next course of action,” the deputy prime minister, Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, was quoted as saying in the Sunday Star newspaper.
The 41-year-old husband could be jailed for six months if he married the girl without permission.
“Marrying an 11-year-old girl is like the behavior of a child predator or pedophile,” Syed Azmi Alhabshi, a child activist, said. Malaysian activist have called for law reform to stop child marriage because it is a typical practice among the country’s Muslim population. About 16,000 Malaysian girls below the age of 15 are already married, advocates say.
As Washington Post reports, photos on social media showed the groom holding the girl’s hand after the marriage ceremony. Malaysian media said Che Abdul Karim, who is also an imam in a rural village in northeast Kelantan state, already has two wives and six children aged 5 to 18.
The groom said to Malaysia’s Bernama news agency that the marriage had been approved by the girl’s parents, that he will only formalize the marriage in Malaysia when the girl turns 16 and that she will stay with her parents until then. The girl was also quoted by local media as saying that she loves Che Abdul Karim because he is a kind man. The man promised to help the family financially and it is a typical case of a wealthy man taking advantage of a poor family in order to sexually abuse a child.
The government is “committed to ending child marriage” and is looking into raising the minimum legal age of marriage to 18, including ensuring there are strict conditions before Sharia courts can give consent for minors to wed, Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said.
Photo Credits: Indian Express