Unless you’ve not been tuning in to the news recently, then you would’ve heard of the incident where a 41-year-old Malaysian man shockingly married an 11-year-old child as his third wife. The marriage took place in Thailand and has caused uproar among Malaysians and international organisations.
Well, actually this is not uncommon in Malaysia because child marriage happens more frequently than you know especially in the rural areas of Sarawak!
A non-governmental organisation namely Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia (JOAS) revealed that child marriage is not uncommon in Sarawak which involves girls that are 15 years old and below.
Albert Banfa, who is the spokesperson of the organisation said the lack of education and premarital sex are the two main causes that contribute to this problem.
“The issue of underage marriage in Sarawak still exist because they (teenagers) don’t have the chance nor interest to get an education. This is because some of their schools are very far away and there isn’t much infrastructure to help them travel to school.
“There are also some students who got married between the age of 15 and 17 with their partners because they’ve ‘crossed the line’. To avoid further embarrassment, they had no choice but to tie the knot,” Albert said.
If the guy refused to provide care for the baby, the teenage girl would still give birth to the baby but the infant will be handed over to a foster family. Yeap, those men are definitely trash!
Also, when a poor family can no longer provide basic necessities for their daughter, she would be married off despite still being underage, in order to reduce the family’s financial burden. That’s not fair for the girl!
To tackle this social problem, the organisation has been holding classes in rural areas of Sarawak to educate the people there on ways of taking care of their children. George Varughese, the president of the Malaysian Bar Council said from year 2005 until 2015, 10,240 Muslim men had applied to marry their child brides. Meanwhile there were 7,719 non-Muslim men who had married brides aged between six to 18 years old from year 2000 to 2014.
In all seriousness, this issue needs to stop and it’s a good thing that our newly announced cabinet will focus on eradicating child marriage.
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