Sisters in Islam (SIS) is highly concerned with the Syariah’s court decision (where) of expediting the approval of marriage of a 40 year old man who had been accused of committing statutory rape to a 13 year old girl.
Pertinent to the issue, Malaysia has to address the recent rise in child brides in spite of a worldwide movement by the United Nations pushing for an end in child marriage.
As reported by UNICEF, girls married young are more vulnerable to intimate partner violence and sexual abuse than those who marry later. This is further supported by the World Health Organization (WHO), that, ‘Complications of pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death in young women aged 15-19. Young girls who marry later and delay pregnancy beyond their adolescence have more chances to stay healthier, to better their education and build a better life for themselves and their families’.
Muslim and non-Muslim children must not be treated differently, and it is deplorable that marriage is being used by alleged rapists as a way to escape prosecution. The government must act upon its pronouncements and stop rapists and pedophiles from manipulating religion and culture, thereby denying protection to our children.
For this reason, to prevent Malaysia from being ridiculed as a country that abets rapists and pedophiles, the onus to defend and uphold the rights of children lies with us to ensure that their rights are not contravened when they depend on us to provide them the protection that they seek. Malaysia’s institutions, including Syariah courts, must serve the people, and the state’s duty and obligation is to protect its citizens, particularly children, at all costs.
With this subject in our hands, we must consider and think whether this is in tandem with the fourth challenge posed in Vision 2020 on ‘establishing a fully moral and ethical society, whose citizens are strong in religious and spiritual values and imbued with the highest of ethical standards’.
Sisters in Islam