Existing laws have to be reviewed to cover ALL children in ALL states in Malaysia

Yesterday, Che Abdul Karim Che Abdul, who took an 11 year old child as his bride, pleaded guilty to Section 19 and Section 124 of Kelantan’s Islamic Family Law Enactment No 6 and was fined RM900 for each charge.

Che Abdul Karim Che Abdul was charged under Section 19 – Permission necessary before solemnization and Section 124 – Polygamy without Court’s permission. The two offenses he was charged with was not for marrying an underage person. Kelantan Islamic Family Law Enactment 2002 has a section which covers minimum age for marriage – Section 8 which states that 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. I would like to know why was he not charged under that section.

The Sexual Offences Against Children (SOAC) Act 2017, which came into effect on July 10 2017 criminalises “grooming” – touching and befriending children as a prelude to sexual abuse.

Earlier reports stated that the Investigators were checking to see if there were any element of sexual grooming involved. Has the investigation stopped after the case has been handed over to the Kelantan Islamic Religious Affairs Department (JAHEAIK)? Should it not be pursued to protect the child?

I am very concerned for the 11 year old child. Has the marriage been nullified by the Syariah Court, or by paying the fine, his marriage to an 11 year old child is now legal and valid? Can he now exert his marital rights upon his child bride?

The PAS-led Kelantan government must state clearly its stand in protecting the children in their state. Children look upon us for protection. Child marriages robs a girl of her childhood, puts her health and growth at risk, and increases her risk of exposure to violence and abuse.

Existing laws have to be reviewed to cover ALL children in ALL states in Malaysia. Thus, a comprehensive review has to be done at both federal and state level. Currently, it can be challenged as being within the jurisdiction of the State as it relates to family laws.

Who will protect the children if not us, the adults?

Lim Lip Eng
MP for Kepong
Media statement by Lim Lip Eng in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday, 10th July 2018