Child marriage around the world:

Malaysia

Child marriage rates
UNICEF 2016 % Married by 15
n/a
UNICEF 2016 % Married by 18
n/a

* References

* Child marriage prevalence is the percentage of women 20-24 years old who were married or in union before they were 18 years old.

* According to UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children 2016.

Photo credit: Nafise Motlaq | World Bank

Child marriage rates
UNICEF 2016 % Married by 15
n/a
UNICEF 2016 % Married by 18
n/a

* References

* Child marriage prevalence is the percentage of women 20-24 years old who were married or in union before they were 18 years old.

* According to UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children 2016.

There is limited data about child marriage in Malaysia.

However, in 2010, a United Nations report showed that over 82,000 married women in the country were girls between the ages of 15 and 19 [1]. For the same year, the Deputy Minister for Women revealed that nearly 15,000 girls below the age of 15 were in a marriage [2].

In early 2013, the case of a 40 year-old man who raped a 13 year-old girl and then took her as his second wife, sparked national debate in Malaysia [3].

Drivers

Child marriage in Malaysia is largely driven by tradition and culture. It is accepted as a traditional practice by many sections of society.

In 2014, the National Fatwa Council published a fatwa declaring that child marriage was not obligatory and that it was not a “healthy” practice, a declaration that has slowly started to change attitudes.

Child marriage is still thought to be more common among rural and indigenous communities.

Legal age of marriage

In Malaysia, the legal minimum age for marriage under civil law for both genders is 18. However, girls can marry at 16 with permission of their state’s chief minister, while Islamic law sets a 16-year minimum age for girls and permits even earlier marriages with the permission of a Syriah court (Malaysia’s Sharia court). [4].

Sources

[1] Girls Not Brides, Child marriage in Malaysia, a child rights issue, 24 May 2013.

[2] The Malay Mail Online, Child marriages not rare in Malaysia with 15,000 underage brides, activists say, 2 October 2015.

[3] Girls Not Brides, Child marriage case draws attention in Malaysia, 24 May 2013.

[4] Human Rights Watch, Marrying your rapist in Malaysia, 27 January 2017.