KUALA LUMPUR, March 13 (Bernama) — The ‘marriage’ of two underage girls in Kelantan recently has opened up debate on the rationale for such marriages.
Surely an 11 year-old girl cannot be expected to clean and cook for a 41 year-old husband.
Marriages involving underage girls may be common during the Malaya days 60 years ago but surely it is difficult to fathom in this modern age.
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Although such marriages are recognised by Islam, many question the motive behind them, including Kelantan Menteri Besar Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat.
He disagreed with such marriages as Islam encourages marriage to raise family as practised by Prophet Muhammad, and not out of lust.
Some quarters may argue that a girl matures at an early age but is she ready pyschologically and mentally for such a marriage?
Psychologist Dr Mariani Mansor said such a marriage will affect the girl’s growth physically, cognitively, socially and emotionally.
“The marriage can negatively affect the girl who may not become a good wife. The husband will want her to perform functions of a wife but she is still a child.
“The girl will be traumatised as her future has been robbed. She will bypass teenage life and go straight to adulthood because of marriage. At 11 years-old, she can only think logically as the cognitive development is still immature.
“A girl at such age does not understand the responsibilities and rationale of being a wife,” Dr Mariani told Bernama.
The senior lecturer at Universiti Putra Malaysia’s (UPM) Human Development and Family Studies Department described men who marry underage girls as abnormal.
Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) commissioner Datuk Dr Chiam Heng Keng said the public should prevent such marriages as marrying an underage girl is a form of abuse.
She said although girls nowadays reach maturity faster, the law does not allow those under 18 years to marry.
Section 8 of the Muslim Family Law Enactment 2002 states that the minimum marrying age for male is 18 years and for female 16 years except with written permission from the syarie judge.
Under the law, offenders can be fined RM1,000 or jailed six months or both by the Syariah Court.
Dr Chiam said men who marry underage girls can be considered as having committed rape.
“The men had committed offences and the girls’ parents will have to explain what happened. An 11 year-old girl is incapable of giving birth.”
She had written several books on early development of children including “Child Development-Preschool Children”, “Understanding Children”, “Bringing Up Children in Troubled Times” and “Children-Our Heritage”.