PUTRAJAYA, Sept 19 — Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said the marriage between the 15-year-old bride and a man who is 30 years her senior in the most recent Kelantan case was “consensual”.
The women, family and community development minister said based on the findings made by Social Welfare Department officers who met the family, the marriage was allegedly based on a “mutual liking” between the minor and the 44-year-old man.
“My officers had gone there and investigated, and found that they mutually liked one another and that the girl had consented to the marriage,” said Dr Wan Azizah after launching the 2018 National Women’s Day celebration.
The legal age of consent for sex in Malaysia is 16.
Dr Wan Azizah said the matter was briefly discussed in a Cabinet meeting this morning on the latest development of the case.
She said the Cabinet was informed that the man had divorced his wife four years ago, which makes the child the first wife to the man.
“She is the wife of a divorcee and not the second wife. He had divorced the first wife four years earlier,” she said.
Dr Wan Azizah reiterated that the ministry is working on increasing the minimum age of marriage to 18-years-old.
Yesterday, the Pandan MP said the federal government does not have the jurisdiction to intervene in the latest case of the child bride in Kelantan.
She said the federal government must abide the decision of the state Shariah court that allowed the minor’s marriage.
It was said that the Muslim solemnisation of vows — between the man, who is a member of the People’s Volunteer Corp (Rela), and the 15-year-old who is a secondary school dropout — was done in July at the Masjid Kampung Laut in Tumpat, Kelantan.
The Shariah court had approved the marriage between the girl, who is the youngest daughter of a poor couple with 13 children, and the 44-year-old man who already has two children.
The father, Che Rahim Che Deraman, 60, and his wife, Mariam Hassan, reportedly said they consented to the marriage due to their poverty and desire for a better life for her.
In June, a 41-year-old Malaysian rubber tapper had married an 11-year-old Thai Muslim girl — with the latter being his daughter’s friend. The Thai child was made his third wife against the wishes of his first and second wife.
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