Growing concern over child marriages in Malaysia

Newlyweds Muhd Muaz Mislan, 15, and Nur Izzati Amiera Ishak, 17, got married late last month in Kluang, Johor. The young couple posted photos and a video of their solemnisation ceremony on Facebook.
Newlyweds Muhd Muaz Mislan, 15, and Nur Izzati Amiera Ishak, 17, got married late last month in Kluang, Johor. The young couple posted photos and a video of their solemnisation ceremony on Facebook.PHOTO: FACEBOOK

More than 150,000 Malaysians tie the knot too early, warns UN official

KUALA LUMPUR - The wedding of a 15-year-old boy in Kluang, Johor, and his 17-year-old girlfriend of two months has captured the attention of social media after the newlyweds posted photos and a video of their solemnisation ceremony on Facebook.

"Young marriage will stir talk from others but I am ready," said the groom, Muhd Muaz Mislan.

The wedding took place late last month but the Malaysian media reported it yesterday amid growing concern over the rising number of child marriages in the country.

On Tuesday, a United Nations official warned that more than 150,000 Malaysians were getting married too early, compromising not only their health but also their chances of development in a productive labour force.

The early marriages involved people below 19 years of age, said UN resident coordinator in Malaysia Michelle Gyles-McDonnough.

"The 2010 population census indicated that about 80,000 married women in the country were aged between 15 and 19 years, while the corresponding number of young married men was 70,000," The Star quoted her as saying.

She was speaking at the launch of the United Nations Population Fund's State of the World Population 2014 report here.

The report said there are 1.8 billion young people aged between 10 and 24 worldwide, most of whom live in developing countries. But child marriage is among several challenges facing youngsters in these countries, including Malaysia.

"Couples who marry too young are not equipped to be part of a productive labour force within a high-income nation, rather, they are relegated to a life of dependency," the UN official said.

For Muslims, the legal age of marriage for males is 18 and females, 16. With the permission of the syariah court, however, Muslims can marry at any age, The Star said.

Under civil law, sexual intercourse with a girl under the age of 16 is a crime, whether or not she consents to it.

According to the population census in 2000, there were 11,400 children below 15 years of age who were married, of whom 6,800 were girls, the Malay Mail Online reported.