KUALA LUMPUR – September 21, 2018: Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr. Wan Azizah Wan Ismail today responded to critics who accused her of condoning child marriages by insisting that her recent statement on the matter was merely quoting reports by officers from here Women, Family and Community Development Ministry.
She has been under fire in social media over the past two days after she was quoted as saying that the recent marriage of a 15-year-old girl to a 44-year-old man was based on mutual consent.
“I wish to reiterate that I am against child marriages and do not condone it. The best interest of the child must always be considered,” said Wan Azizah in a press statement today.
She also explained that she was only relaying what the child told her officers when she said that the child ‘consented’ to the marriage.
News of the girl’s marriage started to surface not long after the previous uproar caused by a different underage marriage, also in Kelantan involving a 11-year-old girl and a 41-year-old rubber tapper.
Wan Azizah also said that the minimum age of marriage will be raised from 16 to 18 years old. A Cabinet paper is being prepared to raise the age limit also for non-Muslims.
However, she cautioned that amending the law will take time but while waiting for it to happen, the ministry will engage the Shariah Judiciary Department to enforce stricter guidelines for shariah judges in approving marriages involving young individuals.