Hakam calls on the minister for women and family to push for new laws to ban and criminalise child marriages in Malaysia.
It is not sufficient that laws allowing child marriages be repealed; there must be laws put in place to eliminate and prohibit child marriage as such early marriages are a violation of human rights and the Convention on the Rights of a Child especially when Malaysia is a party to the convention.
Studies have shown that child marriages have devastating consequences especially for girls, and the problem of child marriages is not new to Malaysia. As early as 2010, the deputy minister for women had revealed there were close to 15,000 Malaysian girls in child marriages.
The new government ought to take the initiative to come up with an action plan to protect Malaysian children especially girls from child marriages. The Pakatan manifesto has provided for the introduction of a new law which sets 18 as the minimum age of marriage. This promise is one of the few reforms that can be implemented immediately upon the first parliamentary session since the people of Malaysia voted for a change of government.
Hakam looks forward to the fulfilment of this promise by the Pakatan government through the tabling of a bill to eliminate child marriages once and for all at the first parliamentary session for this Malaysia baru.
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Hakam also urges all Malaysians to contact their Members of Parliament to seek their commitment and support for the elimination of child marriages in Malaysia.
Gurdial Singh Nijar is the president of Hakam. This statement was issued on behalf of the group’s executive committee.