The fact that child marriage continues to happen in Malaysia underscores the reality that the price that girls have to pay for our government’s lack of political will with regards to this issue is a devastating one.
Highlighting two recent cases in Tumpat, Kelantan, both involving 15-year-old girls who married men far older than them, Sisters in Islam (SIS) is concerned that the normalisation of child marriage dangerously affects the future for girls in our country.
Taking into consideration that one of the girls have even run away from home, demonstrates the unfair power dynamics of child marriage which unfortunately puts girls on the losing end.
The ongoing trend of child marriage clearly shows that current SOPs severely lacks the safeguards required to act in the child’s best interest and to protect their welfare.
As both girls are school dropouts, the system has also failed to prioritise the child’s education and to empower their families with economic means to keep their children in school.
It is indeed disturbing to realise that even in the era of Malaysia Baharu, families are driven to economic desperation to the point that they would marry their children off so that they can “have a better life.” What is even more worrying that we have not matured as a society to be able to tell them that keeping children in school is a more sustainable means of breaking the poverty cycle.
The government must not hide behind the excuse that they are “powerless” to take immediate action to resolve this important issue. Every hour they continue to choose to do so, more girls fall between the cracks they that refuse to repair.