Sabah Mufti wants marriage age reduced to 14 for girls

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Datuk Bungsu @ Aziz Jaafar told a local daily that marriages for teenagers should be valid as long as they followed procedure and obtained permission. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 22 — Sabah Mufti Datuk Bungsu @ Aziz Jaafar called for the legal marriage age to be lowered to 14 and 16 for girls and boys respectively to follow Shariah law.

He told New Straits Times (NST) that what was important was for marriages to go through the courts and for their standard operating procedures to be tightened.

“The reason why they are allowed to get married early is because some of these children can already be considered mature,” the Muslim cleric was quoted as saying in response to the government’s plan to raise the minimum age of marriage to 18.

For Muslims, the minimum legal age for marriage in the states’ Islamic family laws is currently 18 and 16 for a male and female respectively, but those below these ages can still marry if they get the consent of a Shariah judge.

Sabah Law and Native Affairs Minister Datuk Aidi Mokhtar told NST that the state government did not object to setting the legal marriageable age at 18.

“However, there should be some leniency for those under 18 who wish to get married. They should be allowed to apply for permission from the court.

“In fact, at the age of 16 or 18, there is no problem to get married as they have reached puberty,” he was quoted as saying.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail insisted yesterday that the government will raise the minimum age of marriage to 18, after another child marriage case in Kelantan was reported, this time involving a 15-year-old wedded to a 44-year-old man.

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