More underage Muslim girls marrying in Malaysia

A 19-year-old teenager, Mohd Fahmi Alias, recently married 12-year-old Nur Fazira Saad, after they both received permission from their families as well as the Syariah Court in Kulim, Malaysia. -- PHOTO: HARIAN METRO

KUALA LUMPUR - In Malaysia, those under 16 years of age cannot drink or drive. But marry? Increasingly, it seems, yes.

Those under 16 can apply, along with their parents, to Islamic courts for consent to marry, and some states are reporting a rising number of such applications.

Recently, Nur Fazira Saad, a 12-year-old Muslim girl in Johor, was allowed to marry her 19-year-old boyfriend Mohd Fahmi Alias, after her parents caught her spending a night at his home. Her parents said the marriage was to prevent her from sinning and having premarital sex.

Their marriage on Nov 17, widely reported in Malaysian newspapers, sparked an uproar, with activists calling early marriage a threat to a girl's education as well as her mental and physical health.