KUALA LUMPUR: The Sexual Offences Against Children Bill 2017 does not include child marriages, says Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said.

“In child marriage, there are specific provisions. The Bill today is to handle sexual assault.

“Yes, touching a child sexually is illegal but when they are married, touching is legal and is not a crime under this Bill.

“This is not the forum to discuss the issue. However, if they are married, it would depend on the case and many factors would be taken into consideration,” the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department said this in reply to Kulai MP Teo Nie Ching.

She added that even in accordance to civil law, children under the age of 16 are not allowed to be married.

“Under Section 10 of the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce ) Act), any marriage to be solemnised in Malaysia would require the female to be at least 16 years of age, unless she gets a licence.

“So a permission is needed. Which means a child below 16 actually cannot get married unless a licence in granted by the chief minister or mentri besar,” she said.

She said the matter comes under the purview of the Home Ministry or the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry.

Earlier, Teo called for the Government to standardise the age limit for child marriages once the Sexual Offences Against Children Bill 2017 is passed in Parliament.

The DAP lawmaker while debating the Bill in Parliament said the age should be standardised with civil law, and the civil law has set the minimum age for marriage at 16 while the new Bill defines children as those below 18 years of age.

She also said the Bill was contradictory to the Penal Code which states that sex below an individual of 16 years of age is statutory rape.

The Sexual Offences Against Children Bill 2017 is currently being debated at the committee stage in the Dewan Rakyat.
Read more at http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2017/04/03/azalina-child-marriages-not-under-bill-against-child-sexual-crimes/#2hCKb6HxHGq6IJaH.99