UPDATE: An official has since revealed that two months after having “wed” her middle-aged groom, the 11-year-old girl has gone back to Thailand due to intense Malaysian media pressure. Read more here.
Apologies reader: Should you be in the midst of eating, we suggest putting down that muffin for a couple minutes while you read this; Should you be standing, we suggest that you take a seat, because you may be blinded from seeing red.
Malaysia’s most notorious “groom” of recent memory is back in the headlines, and not because someone has finally arrested him. Forty-one-year-old Che Abdul Karim Che Abdul Hamid has expressed frustration over wide-spread horror when news emerged that he had “married” an 11-year-old girl from his area in Kelantan.
In order to “avoid public scrutiny,” the rubber tapper has now moved the girl, named Ayu, and her impoverished parents, to a remote area, deep in the jungle near Gua Musang, where they all had previously lived.
Apparently, he couldn’t handle the insults and “disturbing” being thrown at him and his child-bride from local villagers, after the story went globally viral, eventually ending up on the cover of The New York Times.
Despite having had his “marriage” declared illegal by a Syariah Court, who highlighted that he had neither permission from them, nor from his two other wives, to enter into any union with a child, Che Abdul continues to refer to Ayu as his “wife.”
Speaking to New Straits Times, he told them that moving Ayu and her parents to a undisclosed location was the only choice left.
“This is a big test for both of us. (She) now lives far away, deep in the jungle and I have to drive hours to reach (her). (But) I’m still strong.”
He added that both his “wife” and her parents were deeply disturbed by the actions of the public towards them.
“My wife’s happiness and safety are my top priority right now.
I am willing to travel (to the area) regularly to send food supplies and (pay for) daily expenses as long as she feels that someone loves her,” he said.
Someone loving her like … her parents? Pretty sure that’s the only love an 11-year-old needs, and not that of a man who is old enough to be her father, twice over.
Ayu is currently not enrolled in school, and the middle-aged man who refers to her as his “wife” has told reporters that she has rejected any suggestion to attend a tahfiz (religious school).
Che Abdul had previously told media outlets that he planned to enroll the girl in schooling.
He added that he will “never give up” on having her attend a tahfiz, and that he will be holding “special prayers so that Allah will open her heart one day” to go to school.
Primary education in Malaysia is compulsory by law, lasting six years, beginning when the pupil is aged seven.
Ayu is 11.
The “marriage” between the middle-aged man and the child hit headlines in late June, after one of the man’s other wives posted a photo of the two, sarcastically welcoming her husband’s “third wife” to the family.
Seeing red? After two months of no action from lawmakers, we’re whatever beyond red is right now.