No, LGBT People Aren’t Harming Malaysia, But Child Marriage Is

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07/06/2018

When the news broke last week that a 41-year-old man from Kelantan had married an 11-year-old girl, alarm bells went off in Malaysia’s newly elected government as well as among nongovernmental groups. The Kelantan state police started an investigation, and activists stepped up calls to legislate a minimum marriage age of 18, with no exceptions. But some politicians saw the issue differently. Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah, the deputy head of government in Kelantan state, which is ruled by the opposition Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), said child marriage should not be “sensationalized” and does not violate religious principles. “The issue of zina [sex outside marriage], children born out of wedlock, gays and lesbians, are bigger issues for the country,” he said. Bigger issues for whom? Human Rights Watch has thoroughly documentedthe impacts of child marriage on girls around the world: married girls are more likely to drop out of school, live in poverty, and to be victims of domestic violence, compared to women who marry after age 18.

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