KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 13 — The government is drawing up a comprehensive strategic plan to identify and address the cause of underage or child marriages.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said it was part of the government’s strategy to address the problem holistically.
“This is because there are many factors that lead to child marriage…we have to take into account all the factors, including poverty, school dropouts, early exposure to sexual activity and the perception that marriage is the solution.
“We do not only want to formulate a law, but to also address the cause,” she told reporters after a working visit to Sekolah Rendah Agama (SRA) Jalan F, Pandan here.
She said this in response to a statement by Attorney-General Tan Sri Tommy Thomas last Friday that the government was studying a proposal to raise the minimum marriage age for Muslims from 16 years to 18 years.
Wan Azizah said the age limit for marriage should be an age that is capable for a person to shoulder domestic responsibilities.
The Federal government, she said, was having discussions with state governments to increase the minimum age for Muslim marriage as being done by Selangor.
In another development, Wan Azizah said the cabinet decision for Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to hold the post of Education Minister showed the importance of the education portfolio in the new government.
“However, it is just an interim measure,” she added.
During the visit, the Deputy Prime Minister handed over contributions of RM5,000 to every SRA in the Pandan parliamentary constituency to be channelled to students from poor and B40 families.
She also presented free spectacles to 100 students with visual impairment from four SRA in the Pandan parliamentary constituency.