Child marriage and Female Genital Mutilation in Malaysia

By:

CSO Platform For Reform – Child Cluster

Affiliations:

Child Rights Coalition Malaysia (CRCM)

Policy Code:

2e Child

Problem Statement:

1. The tri-legal systems of the Civil, Syariah and Native Courts are not cohesive.
2. There is a lack of disaggregated, centralised, systematic data on child marriage and FGM
cases.
3. Children who experience pre-marital sex or pregnancies out of wedlock often enter into
child marriages to preserve their family’s dignity, avoid stigmatization, and/or perpetrators
using marriage to legitimise their act and circumvent prosecution.
4. For girls between age 16-18 under Civil law, and girls below age 16 under Syariah law, can
marry with the authorization of the Chief Minister or Menteri Besar. In Sabah and Sarawak
there is no minimum age under native law. Children of migrant labourers from Indonesia
may be married according to the cultural laws of their native country.
5. The Syariah law reforms and its application are not standardized and consistent throughout
Malaysia.
6. The National Fatwa Council in Malaysia mandates female circumcision for Muslim girls and
women.

Value(s) and Belief(s):

Reform the laws governing the protection and safety of children and confidential reporting
mechanisms with judicial, enforcement, medical authorities including SCAN and OSCC staff, first
responders, child protectors, social workers, teachers, school staff, NGOs, religious authorities,
families, children from all communities. Harmful practices cannot be justified by religion.

Proposal of Solution:

1. Raise and standardise the age of sexual consent and marriage to 18 for all children.
2. Endorse a law* that addresses child marriages, penalises perpetrators including facilitators
of child marriages.
3. Synergise national laws to stop and address child marriages.
4. Strengthen provisions of laws relating to sexual offences against children to ensure marriage
is not a defence to the stated offences.
5. Include prohibition and response of FGM in national laws.
6. Accept and implement UN Resolution 71/175.
7. Establish interagency disaggregated data collection mechanism on child marriage and FGM
cases.
8. Expand the present National Strategy Plan to Handle the Causes of Child Marriage to include
comprehensive prevention and response programmes.
9. Avail non-discriminatory access to national child protection systems and services to all
children.
10. Incentivise parents/caregivers through financial aid or employment to promote girls to stay
in school and complete their tertiary education.
11. Institutionalise dialogues and regular awareness raising and capacity building on the
negative impact of child marriage and FGM and comprehensive sexuality education and
emphathetic support available to vulnerable minors.

Additional Information:

1. UCAN. (2018, October 23). Malaysia: PM Mahathir Mohamad Bans Child Marriage. Euroasia review
2. Sisters in Islam & Asia-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (2018))
3. Sarawak had the highest rates of child marriage in the country, with 1,609 incidents
involving non-Muslim girls from 2005 to 2015, and 1,284 Muslim cases from 2011 to 2016
(Ng, Seah and Tay (2020)).
4. National Strategy Plan in Handling the Causes of Child Marriage (2020-2025)
https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/11/22/with-seven-states-refusing-childmarriage-
ban-onus-on-putrajaya-to-convince/1812193
5. FGM-(International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies Malaysia (2019)).
6. FGM - (UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (2018) p5).
7. Factors that drive child marriages include gender discrimination, patriarchal practices,
poverty, gender inequality and lack of awareness and enforcement (UNICEF, 2018).
8. Laws for reform - Federal Territories Enactments in Age of Majority Act 1971, Law Reform
(Marriage & Divorce) Act 1976, Child Act and Islamic Family Law Section 8 provisions and
Malaysian Penal Code (Act 574), Section 375.
9. Since 2015, 83-85% of Muslim baby girls are medically circumcised demonstrating that
Malaysia institutionalises this practice and does not idenitfy it as harmful. During Malaysia’s
Universal Periodic Review in November 2018, this practice was promoted as “cultural
obligation”.
10. *Indian Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006
11. All children includes refugees, migrants and stateless children, pregnant unmarried girls and
survivors of FGM.
12. Facilitators of child marriages include religious authorities, parents/ caregivers, community
leaders and all who endorse child marriages
13. National laws include SOACA, Child Act 2001, Penal Code and Anti-Trafficking laws, Syariah
laws
14. UN Resolution 71/175 adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 19 December
2016 on Child, Early and Forced Marriage and CEDAW Committee’s 2018 Concluding
Observations to Malaysia to stop FGM.
15. Interagency disaggregated data collection includes mechanism number of police reports,
prosecutions and convictions with police, JKM Hospitals, clinics, NGOs, UN agencies,
schools, community-based organisations and learning centres.
16. National child protection systems and services include legal, medical, mental health, case
management, sexual reproductive health and education services.
17. https://www.unicef.org/malaysia/ending-child-marriage Ending Child Marriage Advocacy
Campaign 2021

Translation

Isu dan Polisi Semasa:

Sistem tri-undang-undang Mahkamah Sivil, Syariah dan Mahkamah Asli tidak berpadu.
Terdapat kekurangan kumpulan data sistem perkahwinan anak dan kes FGM yang tidak terpisahkan, terpusat, dan sistematik.
Anak-anak yang mengadakan seks sebelum perkahwinan atau kehamilan di luar nikah sering mengahwinkan anak untuk menjaga maruah keluarganya, menghindari stigma, dan / atau pelaku yang menggunakan perkahwinan untuk mengesahkan tindakan mereka dan mengelakkan pendakwaan.
Untuk kanak-kanak perempuan berumur antara 16-18 tahun di bawah undang-undang Sivil, dan kanak-kanak perempuan di bawah umur 16 tahun di bawah undang-undang Syariah, boleh berkahwin dengan kebenaran Ketua Menteri atau Menteri Besar. Di Negeri Sabah dan Sarawak, tidak ada usia minimum di bawah undang-undang peribumi. Anak-anak buruh migran dari Indonesia boleh berkahwin mengikut undang-undang budaya di negara asalnya.
Pembaharuan undang-undang Syariah dan aplikasinya tidak standard dan konsisten di seluruh Malaysia.
Majlis Fatwa Kebangsaan di Malaysia bermandat untuk berkhatan perempuan wanita dan wanita Muslim.

Nilai-nilai dan Kepercayaan:

Reformasi undang-undang yang mengatur perlindungan dan keselamatan kanak-kanak dan mekanisme pelaporan sulit dengan kehakiman, penguatkuasaan, pihak berkuasa perubatan termasuk kakitangan SCAN dan OSCC, responden pertama, pelindung kanak-kanak, pekerja sosial, guru, kakitangan sekolah, NGO, pihak berkuasa agama, keluarga dan anak-anak dari semua komuniti. Amalan dan tindakan berbahaya tidak boleh dibenarkan oleh agama.

Penyelesaian:

Naikkan dan memiawaikan usia persetujuan seksual dan perkahwinan hingga umur 18 untuk semua kanak-kanak.
Mendukung undang-undang* yang menyoalkan perkahwinan anak, menghukum pelaku termasuk pemudah cara perkahwinan anak.
Menyinergikan undang-undang negara untuk menghentikan dan menangani perkahwinan anak.
Memperkukuh peruntukan undang-undang yang berkaitan dengan kesalahan seksual terhadap anak-anak untuk memastikan perkahwinan bukanlah pembelaan terhadap kesalahan yang dinyatakan.
Besertakan larangan dan tindak balas FGM dalam undang-undang negara.
Terima dan laksanakan Resolusi PBB 71/175.
Membentuk mekanisme pengumpulan data terpilih antara-agama mengenai perkahwinan anak dan kes FGM.
Mengembangkan Pelan Strategi Nasional yang untuk menangani Punca Perkahwinan Anak yang merangkumi program pencegahan dan tindak balas yang komprehensif.
Mendapatkan akses yang tidak mendiskriminasi untuk sistem dan perkhidmatan perlindungan kanak-kanak kebangsaan kepada semua kanak-kanak.
Memberi insentif kepada ibu bapa / pengasuh melalui bantuan kewangan atau pekerjaan untuk menggalakkan anak-anak perempuan tinggal di sekolah dan menyelesaikan pendidikan tinggi mereka. Melembagakan dialog dan meningkatan kesedaran secara berkala dan peningkatan kapasiti mengenai kesan negatif perkahwinan anak dan FGM serta pendidikan seksualiti yang komprehensif dan sokongan yang penuh perhatian untuk anak-anak yang rentan.

Informasi Tambahan:

1. UCAN. (2018, October 23). Malaysia: PM Mahathir Mohamad Bans Child Marriage. Euroasia review
2. Sisters in Islam & Asia-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (2018))
3. Sarawak had the highest rates of child marriage in the country, with 1,609 incidents
involving non-Muslim girls from 2005 to 2015, and 1,284 Muslim cases from 2011 to 2016
(Ng, Seah and Tay (2020)).
4. National Strategy Plan in Handling the Causes of Child Marriage (2020-2025)
https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/11/22/with-seven-states-refusing-childmarriage-
ban-onus-on-putrajaya-to-convince/1812193
5. FGM-(International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies Malaysia (2019)).
6. FGM - (UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (2018) p5).
7. Factors that drive child marriages include gender discrimination, patriarchal practices,
poverty, gender inequality and lack of awareness and enforcement (UNICEF, 2018).
8. Laws for reform - Federal Territories Enactments in Age of Majority Act 1971, Law Reform
(Marriage & Divorce) Act 1976, Child Act and Islamic Family Law Section 8 provisions and
Malaysian Penal Code (Act 574), Section 375.
9. Since 2015, 83-85% of Muslim baby girls are medically circumcised demonstrating that
Malaysia institutionalises this practice and does not idenitfy it as harmful. During Malaysia’s
Universal Periodic Review in November 2018, this practice was promoted as “cultural
obligation”.
10. *Indian Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006
11. All children includes refugees, migrants and stateless children, pregnant unmarried girls and
survivors of FGM.
12. Facilitators of child marriages include religious authorities, parents/ caregivers, community
leaders and all who endorse child marriages
13. National laws include SOACA, Child Act 2001, Penal Code and Anti-Trafficking laws, Syariah
laws
14. UN Resolution 71/175 adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 19 December
2016 on Child, Early and Forced Marriage and CEDAW Committee’s 2018 Concluding
Observations to Malaysia to stop FGM.
15. Interagency disaggregated data collection includes mechanism number of police reports,
prosecutions and convictions with police, JKM Hospitals, clinics, NGOs, UN agencies,
schools, community-based organisations and learning centres.
16. National child protection systems and services include legal, medical, mental health, case
management, sexual reproductive health and education services.
17. https://www.unicef.org/malaysia/ending-child-marriage Ending Child Marriage Advocacy
Campaign 2021