The discussion among Malaysians to lower the minimum age from 21 years old to 18 for citizens to exercise their rights and vote has pushed DAP Wanita publicity secretary Kasthuri Patto who is also MP of Batu Kawan to urge the Pakatan Harapan government to look into fixing the age for marriage at 18 years for all, including Muslims.
The current marriage under civil law is already 18 years old but according to the Shariah court, for Muslims the minimum age is set at 16.
Kasthuri’s intention is to uphold the rights of children according to an official statement, “Malaysia as a signatory of the United Nation Convention on the Rights of the Child has a moral duty to put its foot down once and for all to end child marriages,”
It comes as no surprise that when a child is married off at a young age, especially if they are girls – there will be risks like health complications during pregnancy, domestic violence and dismissing education.
Kasthuri also mentioned that “figures from the National Registration Department for 2011-2015 showed 2,104 cases of marriages among 16-year-old non-Muslim girls, of whom 680 married boys their age and 1,424 married men over the age of 21.”
If Malaysia decides to follow through with the change of law, it wouldn’t be a bizarre step to take as we would be following the foot steps of other Muslim nations like Morocco, Egypt and Algeria.