23 May 2024

Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail of Malaysia has expressed concerns over a report that an 11-year-old Thai girl has been taken as a wife by a Malaysian man  30 years her senior, according to Malaysian media.

It reported that she has instructed officials of the Social Welfare Department to conduct a thorough investigation after the report has gone viral on social media.

The Malaysian man is reported to be 41 years old and is a father of six and a self-proclaimed imam at a village in Kelantan.  The 11-year-old girl was reportedly taken as his third wife in a ceremony in Sungai Golok, Narathiwat, two week.  The marriage was reportedly blessed by the girl’s parents.

Bernama quoted Wan Azizah as saying that the marriage is illegal because it had not received the consent of the Syariah court as the girl was under the minimum legal age for marriage.

“The marriage is not legal and they must be separated,”  said the deputy prime minister who is also minister for Women, Family and Community Development.

She said she had received a report on the case and had instructed welfare officials to get more details.

“Our officers have gone to the house and met with the girl’s mother. We are waiting for more reports before deciding on the next course of action,” she said.

Malaysian women groups and social activists have come out to strongly criticize the 41-year-old Malaysian man and urged the government to consider legislative measures to put an end to child marriage.