Malaysia’s inaction on child brides a green light to paedophiles, says Lawyers for Liberty

Raynore Mering
Executive director of the rights group Latheefa Koya took Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and her Women, Family and Community Development Ministry to task. — Picture by Azinuddin Ghazali

PETALING JAYA, Sept 18 — The authority’s failure to act against the Kelantanese man who took an 11-year-old child bride in July has become an ‘advertisement’ to other paedophiles that they can get away with abusing minors in Malaysia, Lawyers for Liberty said today.

As another controversy erupted today over a 15-year-old girl who was taken as a second wife, Latheefa Koya, the executive director of the rights group, said paedophiles were taking advantage of the lack of decisive action in the first case.

She took Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and her Women, Family and Community Development Ministry to task, claiming that “paedophiles are now clearly using ‘marriage’ as a shield to prevent prosecution for rape or sexual grooming.”

“This puts the children of this country, particularly Muslim children, in constant danger from perverts and paedophiles,” she said in a statement.

“...the DPM must ensure that there is an immediate police investigation into whether sexual grooming contrary to the Sexual Offences Against Children Act 2017 (SOAC) has taken place,” she said.

Latheefa said there is strong basis for a police probe as reports state that the 15-year-old child had known the 44 year-old man for ‘several months’ before marriage.

“The fact that this man later contracted a marriage under the Shariah law, does not absolve him from the crime of grooming,” she said, urging police to immediately investigate the case.

This morning, another child marriage case was reported in Kelantan involving a 15-year-old girl and a man almost 30 years her senior.

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 approved the marriage between the girl, who is the youngest daughter of an impoverished couple with 13 children, and the 44-year-old man, who already has two children.

Related Articles Shariah judges should learn how harmful child marriages are, says MP After yet another child bride case, Dr M vows review by Putrajaya Putrajaya can’t act against Kelantan, DPM says after second child bride