KUALA LUMPUR, April 6 — PAS lawmaker Datuk Nik Mazian Nik Mohamad suggested today that allowing girls under the age of 16 to marry could resolve the issue of premarital sex by teens with “urges”.
As other lawmakers debated the legal age to marry — 18 for most Malaysians, but 16 for Muslim girls — the Pasir Puteh MP said that preventing child marriage would not stop teenagers from having sex freely.
“Nowadays, kids under the age of 16 are already having sex and already have open sexual relationships.
“If we prevent them from getting married, these urges are still there, so they will be exposed to have sex freely and outside of marriage,” he said while in the Dewan Rakyat today.
He then challenged Kulai MP Teo Nie Ching for her position on premarital sex, after the DAP lawmaker sought for the age of marriage to be made 18 for all Malaysians regardless of gender or faith.
Aside from the lower age of marriage, Muslim girls under the age of 16 may also marry if they obtain permission from the Shariah courts.
“In Kulai’s opinion, do you agree with children having premarital sex?” he asked.
Ampang MP Zuraida Kamaruddin (PKR) earlier claimed that child marriages were being used as a solution to statutory rape and girls were forced to marry their rapists.
Teo concurred, adding that the practice exacerbated the trauma of the rape victims.
“Like in Sabah, in KK (Kota Kinabalu), a 14-year-old married her rapist that was over the age of 40. After that the rapist was convicted in court. But what happens to the child?
“Her husband is sent to jail over a crime, but she married the man who raped her. That’s why we need amendments to protect the rights of the child,” she said.
Nik Mazian then asked if there was coercion in the Sabah case cited by Teo, saying that if the intercourse had been consensual, it supported his assertion that teens have sexual urges, which he described as a “big problem”.
Responding to Teo, Women, Family and Community Development Deputy Minister Datuk Azizah Mohd Dun said that child marriages did not fall under the purview of her ministry.
She added that her ministry already took steps to regulate child marriages by ensuring that a social and medical report is submitted when an underage marriage application is made.
Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim also said in her written reply to Teo earlier today that the Shariah court system received more than 1,000 applications from Muslims for permission to marry minors last year.
In Malaysia, the legal minimum age for marriage under civil law for both genders is 18, with marriages involving those under this age requiring consent from the state mentri besar or chief minister.
Shariah laws here place the legal marrying age for Muslim boys and girls at 18 and 16, with girls aged below 16 being allowed to be married off with the consent of the Shariah court.