The government has no plans to ban underage marriages, said the Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rina Harun, but she say the ministry remains committed to preventing such unions.
Rina added there are several aspects that needed to be addressed in curbing child marriages, apart from amending legal provisions.
“The government does not have any plans to ban underage marriages for now. However, the government remains committed to curbing underage marriages by implementing the National Strategic Plan in Handling the Causes of Child Marriages.”
“At the same time, a steering committee has been formed to monitor the implementation and development of the programmes that have been planned,” Rina said in a written reply to Permatang Pauh MP Nurul Izzah Anwar.
In the Dewan Rakyat today (22 March), Nurul Izzah asked about the status of the plan to ban child marriages.
Rina said her ministry will discuss with the Islamic development department (JAKIM) and shariah judiciary department on the suggestion to hold talks with the respective states’ Islamic religious authorities to raise the legal age for marriage to 18.
She added that the power to raise the age limit for child marriage is under the purview of respective states’ religious authorities.
“I urge all stakeholders, whether at the federal or state government level, to be more concerned over the issue and to jointly support the government’s effort to manage underage marriages to safeguard our children’s future,” she said.
In October 2021, women’s rights groups Sisters is Islam (SIS) had renewed their call to Putrajaya to revive the national plan on child marriage launched by the Pakatan Harapan administration to put a stop to underage marriages.
SIS said that since the change of government in 2020, there had been no clear indication if the women, family and community development ministry would implement the national strategic plan in handling child marriage and its causes.