TUMPAT, Sept 18 – Yet another case of marriage involving an underage girl has taken place in Kelantan.
This time, it involves a 15-year-old girl, who tied the knot with a 44-year-old People’s Volunteer Corp (Rela) member, who is a father of two.
The girl is the man’s second wife.
The union was approved by the Syariah Court. The ‘akad nikah’ (solemnisation of vows) took place at the Masjid Kampung Laut in Tumpat in July.
Her parents said poverty drove them into giving their consent to their youngest daughter’s marriage with the man, who is 29 years her senior.
Her father, Che Rahim Che Deraman, 60, said he and his wife, Mariam Hassan, were introduced by one of their sons to the man, who hails from Gua Musang, several months ago.
The couple, who run a small sundry shop in front of their home, have 13 children.
Che Rahim said they make only around RM200 to RM300 a month, which he said is hardly enough to make ends meet.
They said they only gave their consent because they want their daughter to have a better life.
“No parent wants to see his or her child live in hardship. We do not want our daughter to live in difficulty as we did, raising 13 children.
“We want our children to live a more comfortable life, and this includes our youngest daughter.
“Her siblings are all married and now have their own lives. We know that she is underage, but we only want the best for her,” said Che Rahim, who has 30 grandchildren.
Che Rahim said he and his wife only agreed to have their daughter married off after they were convinced that the man could make her happy.
“Even though he is married with two children, he applied for polygamy status from the courts and was granted permission,” he said.
He said his daughter, who only studied up to Form One, did not object to the marriage.
Meanwhile, NSTP spoke to the girl, who said she was happy to be married.
The girl, who appeared cheerful, said she had no hesitation about marrying the man although she had only known him for several months.
“Honestly, I don’t mind what people say about me. The most important thing is that I’m happy with my husband, and I will try to make him happy for the rest of my life,” she said.
The first case of underage marriage which drew uproar from rights groups was in July, when a Malaysian rubber trader married an 11-year-old girl from Thailand at a mosque in Kampung Padang Nyor, Sungai Golok, on June 18.
The girl was a friend of his daughter.
The case was picked up after pictures of their marriage were uploaded on Facebook by the man’s second wife.
The man was charged at the Gua Musang Lower Syariah Court and ordered to pay RM1,800 in fines for marrying without approval and getting into a polygamous marriage without consent.
On July 22, another case, this time involving the marriage between a 19-year-old from Terengganu and a 13-year-old girl from Kelantan, made headlines.
They tied the knot at a mosque in Kampung Pulau Nibong here on June 20.
Women groups and social activists have since urged the government to take legislative action to put an end to child marriages in the country.
The Joint Action Group for Gender Equality said this must be done by raising the marriageable age to 18.
It said Muslim-majority countries that had raised the minimum age of marriage included Algeria (19), Bangladesh (18 for women and 21 for men), Morocco (18) and Turkey (18).
It said solemnisation of Muslim marriages in Thailand demonstrated loopholes in the Malaysian legal system. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd