BACHELOR OF PROFESSIONAL COMMUNICATION

BACHELOR OF PROFESSIONAL COMMUNICATION (HONS)
BCC 2034 – PERSUASIVE COMMUNICATION
MS. YOKANANTHINI MURUGEESAN
CHILD MARRIAGE SHOULD OR SHOULD NOT BE A CONCERN IN MALAYSIA
NAME: NURUL ALYAA BINTI AHMAD RAZI
STUDENT ID: 201701704

Anywhere around the world, there is one thing we can agree on that is consider to be a very happy moment and also a moment to celebrate in everyone’s life. Which is a wedding, a marriage, a bond between two people who are in love with each other. But unfortunately, there are quite a number of marriage that is being frown upon in some parts of the world and also in Malaysia, examples are marriage of the same genders and child marriage.

On the month July of 2018, there was a reports of a marriage between a 41 years old Malaysian man and an 11 years old Thai girl and this have become the topic of discussion after it was reported that they had solemnized in Southern Thailand. This news have got the attention of everyone in Malaysia including the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who also hold the title of the minster of Women, Family and Community Development. Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said that their marriage is void according to Islamic Family Law Enactment. Unfortunately, this is not the only one case that happened in Malaysia. There are a lot of cases that involved child marriage in Malaysia. There are reports that came from the Penang Institute that reported that nearly 9,000 child marriages took place between 2010 and 2015, involving 6,268 Muslims and 2,775 non-Muslims. In most country around the world, including Malaysia, the minimum legal age to get marry is already defined in the Age of Majority Act 1971, which is under the age of 18.

There are two different marriage laws in Malaysia; one for the Muslims and the other is for non-Muslims. This can be refer below:
For Muslims, the Islamic Family Law enactments. This law had been set by the states of Malaysia and it can be different depending on which states you are in.

For Non-Muslims, the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976. This law had been set by Parliament and it is the same on all the states in Malaysia.

Like what above paragraph said, the non-Muslims follows the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976 for their marriage laws and this law applies to any non-Muslim in any state across Malaysia and only the Parliament can amend some points of the marriage law if needed. It is a bit complicated for the Muslims to get marry because of the Islamic Family Law. The Islamic Family Law was developed in 1984 and the purpose is to guide Muslims about the Muslim marriage law, what they can and cannot do. The reason why every states’ State Legislative Assembly have the rights to their own Muslim marriage law is to adjust some of the points of the law to fit social and/or religious requirements of the Muslims in their state. That is why you would find different versions of the law on other states in Malaysia. For example:
Islamic Family Law (State of Selangor) Enactment 2003
Islamic Family Law (State of Penang) Enactment 2004
Administration of Islamic Family Law (Terengganu) Enactment 1985
Islamic Family Law (Sarawak) Ordinance 2001.

As we check over both Muslim and non-Muslim marriage laws, there is still no indication that you can marry a child under the age of 18 years old. Below are more examples from both Muslim and non-Muslim marriage law:
Non-Muslims (Civil marriage law)
Males below the age of 18 are not allowed to marry
Females below the age of 18 can marry with the permission of the Chief Minister of the state
Females below the age of 16 are not allowed to marry
Muslims (Islamic Family law)
Males below the age of 18 are not allowed to marry
Females below the age of 16 are not allowed to marry
Only a Syariah court judge can allow the marriage of any child under these ages
The Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976 for non-Muslim marriage about underage marriage can be found in Section 10 of the Act:
10. Any marriage purported to be solemnized in Malaysia shall be void if at the date of the marriage either party is under the age of eighteen years unless, for a female who has completed her sixteenth year, the solemnization of such marriage was authorized by a licence granted by the Chief Minister under subsection 21(2).

Section 21(2) referred above states:
21. (2) The Chief Minister may in his discretion grant a licence under this section authorizing the solemnization of a marriage although the female party to the marriage is under the age of eighteen years, but not in any case before her completion of sixteen years.

Essentially, the Act states that if a male was under the age of 18 at the time of the marriage, it will not be recognized in the eyes of the law in Malaysia. This age restriction will also apply to females unless they’ve gotten permission from the Chief Minister from their state. Furthermore, the law also makes it compulsory for both male and female side to get permission from their parents to get marry if they haven’t reached the age of 21.

For Muslims, the section of the Islamic Family Law Act regarding marriage-ble age appears to be the same regardless of state. As an example, Section 8 of both the Islamic Family Law (Federal Territories) Act 1984 and the Islamic Family Law (Kelantan) Enactment 2002 state the same:
Minimum age for marriage
8. No marriage may be solemnized under this Enactment where either the man is under the age of eighteen or the woman is under the age of sixteen except where the Syariah Judge has granted his permission in writing in certain circumstances.
In other words, a male has to be 18 years of age and a female has to be 16 in order to be legally married, but a Syariah court judge can give permission for either gender who has yet to reach this age to marry.

So one thing you may have noticed is that both laws don’t specify the exact criteria in which an underaged child can marry – the civil laws use “at his discretion” while the Islamic Family law says “in certain circumstances” – and leaves this decision to the Chief Minister or the Syariah judge. While it can be argued that this can be vague, it also allows the decision-maker to take into account the reasons for that particular marriage; along with current social and cultural considerations before allowing or disallowing it.
However, it’s also worth noting that the National Fatwa Committee answered the question of child marriage for Muslims in a 2014 Fatwa, which concluded that it can only be allowed if the marriage was the best interest of the child. Additionally, they also specified that the authorities restrict the conditions of child marriage and ensure that procedures are being followed.

If you’re wondering, a Fatwa is an Islamic legal ruling that’s decided by a Mufti (Muslim jurist) and other religious scholars for current issues based on Islamic sources such as the Quran and Hadith. This definition is also found in Section 34(1) of the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Act 1993:
34. (1) The Mufti shall, on the direction of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, and may, on his own initiative or on the request of any person made by letter addressed to the Mufti, make and publish in the Gazette, a fatwa or ruling on any unsettled or controversial question of or relating to Islamic Law.
So in that essence, this Fatwa can be seen as a way to address child marriage based on social and cultural concerns in 2014. On the civil side, certain laws have been introduced that can be seen as progressively taking the interests of the child into consideration, such as the Sexual Offences Against Children Act 2017 which protects children against the recent concern of sexual predators and child grooming.
But until any changes specifically pertaining to child marriage (whether Muslim or non-Muslim) are made, this is the current legal position on the issue.

REFERENCES
A) Author: Nor Fazlina Abdul Rahim and Ramli Ibrahim
b) Publication date: July 2, 2018 @ 2:57pm
c) Article title: ‘I will not let Ayu go’: Husband of Thai child bride
d) Name of periodical: New Straits Times
e) URL: https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2018/07/386531/i-will-not-let-ayu-go-husband-thai-child-brideA) Author:
b) Publication date:
c) Article title:
d) Name of periodical:
e) URL:
A) Author:
b) Publication date:
c) Article title:
d) Name of periodical:
e) URL:
A) Author:
b) Publication date:
c) Article title:
d) Name of periodical:
e) URL: