In Kuala Lumpur, the marriage between a thirteen-year-old girl and the forty-year-old man accused of raping her, has caused major controversy. Even though they had been having sex after their marriage, the court could annul it under Islamic Family Law in Sabah, citing the consent factor.
Reportedly the girl’s father got the court to allow his daughter to marry forty-year-old Riduan Masmud, a restaurant manager, but the court would not give its consent to let Masmud to take a second wife. Secretary general of the Syariah Lawyers Association, Moeis Basri, agreed with the Sabah Welfare Department questioning the validity of Masmud’s second marriage. Basri says it’s because they are not sure if the marriage was solemnized according to Syariah law.
“Before a Muslim man can take a second wife, a Syariah Court has to first confirm the man is financially able to take care of her,” Moeis said. He also said the newly married couple cannot register the marriage with the state’s religious department until the court has given permission to marry. The Welfare Department plans to put the thirteen-year-old-girl in its care because they do not feel she should be with Masmud or her parents.
SIS (Sisters In Islam) legal officer Kartina agrees saying. “She can’t stay with her husband and it’s clear she can’t stay with her parents since they were not acting in her best interest when they consented to the marriage.” SIS one organization championing the annulment. In a press release, they made the following statement:
“…Pertinent to the issue, Malaysia has to address the recent rise in child brides in spite of a worldwide movement by the United Nations pushing for an end in child marriage…”
The Welfare Department is now acting in the girl’s best interest under the Child Act of 2001.