25 Dec 2010

Marriage of 11-year-old Malaysian girl ruled illegal

9:15 am on 25 December 2010

An Islamic court in Malaysia has ruled as illegal the marriage of an 11-year-old girl to a man 30 years older - but not because of the bride's age.

The judge found that Islamic law had not been followed, because the father of the child had had no intention of marrying her off, and there were elements of threat and force involved.

Muslim girls in Malaysia under the age of 16 are allowed to get married with the permission of the Islamic court.

The case has, however, prompted women's rights groups to call on the government to increase the minimum age of marriage to 18.

One organisation, Sisters in Islam, says child marriages continue in Malaysia because of a belief that Muslim girls can be married off once they reach puberty.

Earlier this month, a 14-year-old girl married a 23-year-old teacher in a public ceremony in Kuala Lumpur.