Current Affairs, National

Recognise child marriage as a human rights violation!

Press Statement
9th December 2020

Human Rights Day is commemorated on 10 December every year, the date on which the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

Therefore, it is appropriate to mark Human Rights Day this year as a commitment by the Sabah government to end child marriage.

Child marriage is a violation of human rights and is prohibited by a number of international conventions and other instruments. If we don’t stop child marriages, it is estimated that more than 100 million girls are likely to be married before the age of 18 in the next 10 years.

Child marriage is not acceptable and it should be avoided as it can affect a child’s rights to education, reproductive health, and mental health.

I strongly urge the GRS government to make a strong statement against child marriage, and implement the 10-Year Plan to End Child Marriage in Sabah which the Ministry of Law and Native Affairs has adopted with the support of UNICEF Malaysia.

According to the Ministry of Women, Family, and Community Development, a total of 1,856 underage marriages were recorded across Malaysia this year. Sabah has the third highest Muslim child marriages with 63 child marriages in the first 9 months of this year. This year, 543 child marriages including applications have been recorded nationwide so far involving Muslims from Sabah, making it the third highest after Sarawak’s 83 and Kelantan’s 80. As for non-Muslims, the ministry said that the National Registration Department records showed 23 underage marriages were recorded from January to September 2020.

A news report in The Daily Express dated 7th December 2020

The UDHR (1948) states that men and women of full age are entitled to equal rights to marriage, during marriage, and at its dissolution. Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending parties.

The Convention on Consent to Marriage, Minimum Age for Marriage, and Registration of Marriages (1964) says that no marriage shall be legally entered into without the full and free consent of both parties. States should specify a minimum age for marriage (not less than 15 years) and all marriages should be registered by the competent authority.

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination of Women (1979) which Malaysia has ratified, states that the betrothal and marriage of a child shall have no legal effect, and that all necessary action including legislation should be taken to specify a minimum age for marriage, and to make the registration of marriage in an official registry compulsory. In its 1994 general recommendations, the Committee considered that the minimum age for marriage should be 18 years for both men and women.

Jannie Lasimbang
ADUN for Kapayan
Sabah DAP Wanita Chief

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